Rwanda: Covid-19 - Govt Lifts Kigali Lockdown, Strict Measures Remain

Kigali City (file photo).

Rwanda has lifted a 15-day lockdown effective August 1 and reimposed strict guidelines to contain Covid-19 infections that have been on the rise since June.

A cabinet meeting presided over by President Kagame on Friday resolved that Kigali, and the other eight districts that have been under lockdown since July 17, reopen but some restrictions remain.

The cabinet meeting resolution prohibited all social gatherings, and reinstated a 6pm-4am curfew.

Businesses will close at 5pm, restaurants and cafes will only offer takeaway services, and meetings will resume with 30 percent of venue capacity.

Movements between Kigali and other parts of the country are allowed except to and from the 50 sectors across the country that are still under lockdown, while public transport shall resume operations with 50 percent of their capacity. Domestic tourism that had also been put on hold will resume as well.

"Citizens are reminded of the critical importance of complying with these measures, including keeping distance, wearing face masks and hand hygiene. Penalties will be applied for non-compliance," the meeting communique states.

A spike in infections had forced the government to lockdown Kigali and eight districts and ramp up Covid-19 testing to mitigate the severe third wave. The lockdown led to roughly 200,000 Kigali residents tested for Covid-19 during a two-day mass testing in July that were conducted to determine the prevalence of coronavirus in Kigali.

Last week, 7,510 people tested positive and 150 were hospitalised, while 67 patients were in critical condition. The current death toll at the weekend was 798, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

The severity of the current wave is attributed to the novel Delta variant that is said to be more contagious and deadly than other variants.

"Covid-19 now has gotten more severe with more new symptoms such as headache, fatigue and breathing complications," Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije said, adding that more younger people are dying of Covid-19.

Minister Ngamije emphasised that while the government works to secure more vaccine doses, the public should comply with current guidelines in place to minimise risk of infection.

So far, 452,435 people have received both doses of Covid-19 while 4,240 have received their first dose. Rwanda needs at least 13 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate its target 60 percent of the population by June 2022.

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