Rwanda has put its capital Kigali back under total lockdown for 10 days effective July 17 as the country battles a severe third wave that has seen fatalities increase over the last two weeks.
As of Wednesday, Rwanda had 14,553 active coronavirus cases with a positivity rate of 17.5 percent, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Some 607 have succumbed to the virus while 74 people are in critical condition.
A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Wednesday announced the measures, banning non-essential movements in the capital and the districts of Gicumbi, Burera, Musanze, Kamonyi, Nyagatare, Rwamagana, Rubavu and Rutsiro.
The current surge in infections has mainly affected Kigali which represents over half of reported cases, according to Rwanda Biomedical Center's statistics.
A communique issued on Wednesday evening stated that non-essential businesses, churches, schools and universities shall all close. Employees will work from home, public transport shall not operate, and movements are prohibited except for essential reasons.
"Given the rapid spike in Covid-19 cases, the emergence of new variants and increase of Covid-19-related deaths, the government has decided to further tighten the existing control measures," the statement said.
It also urged Kigali residents to significantly reduce social interactions and limit movements only to essential activities. Kigali was last put in total lockdown in January 2021 during a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
Kigali and some parts of the country have been in a partial lockdown since July 1. The city appeared practically deserted, with people working from their homes, schools closed, restaurants offering only takeaway services and public transport vehicles carrying only 30 percent of their capacity.
The new measures will take effect on July 17-July 26.
The rest of the country shall follow a 6pm-4am curfew. Inter-district movements are not permitted.
Churches outside Kigali will operate under the usual guidelines, while meetings will not exceed 30 percent of venue capacity. Weddings and ceremonies are not allowed.