COVID-19 at a glance, one year since Rwanda confirmed first case

On 15 March 2021 at 01:43

It has been a year since Rwanda confirmed the first COVID-19 case. The pandemic has caused unprecedented effects and put world’s economy at a downturn. As Coronavirus emerged, some employees were laid off while some businesses encountered losses or halted activities due to implemented measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Rwanda confirmed the first case on 14th March 2020. As of today, 20186 people have been infected out of 1,062,907 sample tests of whom 18566 have recovered, 1340 are active cases while 280 succumbed to the virus.

Initially, a lockdown was imposed for almost one month and half, while churches and some businesses like gaming activities, and bars are still closed.

Before 2020, no one had imagined that a face mask would become a basic clothing worldwide. The pandemic has shown that all people need to concert efforts regardless of their statuses to sort out the situation.

The first human cases of COVID-19 were identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December.

On 13th January 2020, the virus was also confirmed in Thailand followed by Japan, South Korea and Asia.

Later on 20th January, the United States of America (USA) also confirmed the first case.

Considering fast transmission of the virus, Wuhan was placed under lockdown on 23rd January 2020 to contain its spread.

The virus continued to spread to other countries whereby lockdowns and cross border movements were imposed. At early stages, the pandemic also saw flights suspended.
On 14th February 2020, the virus spread to Africa when Egypt confirmed the first case.

The pandemic instilled the culture of washing or sanitizing hands frequently, wear face masks and keep social distancing to contain its spread.

On African continent, the virus was initially reported from countries including Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Sudan and Ethiopia.

On 10th March, the wave reached the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda few days later.

Coronavirus in Rwanda

On 14th March 2020, Rwanda confirmed the first Coronavirus patient. He was an Indian arriving in Rwanda from Mumbai. He had arrived on 8th March. Six days later, he felt sick and went to Kibagabaga Hospital for medical attention where he was tested positive.

One day later, Rwanda reported two more cases. New infections increased gradually at a slower pace as the country had anticipated the situation reminding the public to adhere to preventive measures.

Hand washing facilities were set up at different public places, shaking hands was prohibited while a task force was established to reinforce preventive measures.

On 22nd March 2020, Rwanda imposed total lockdown that put many activities at standstill except essential services.

People rushed to store foods as they were not aware how long the lockdown would be extended while causal workers among others who forced their meal upon daily work survived by Government’s interventions from national food reserves.

Traders were warned against taking advantage of the pandemic to hike prices.

Among others, the country mobilized citizens to use cashless payments while the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) set restrictions for people withdrawing over Rwf 1 million per day to avoid circulation to avoid further transmission of the virus.

It was a tough time that people had never experienced but Rwanda managed to control infections through different measures on support of frontline workers who were commended for their efforts.

As figures increased, the lockdown was gradually extended until businesses resumed within strict control measures after 40 days.

The total lockdown was lifted on 4th May 2020 but businesses could not continue activities as usual due to implemented measures. The Government set curfew hours, imposed the wearing of face mask, urged businesses to work in rotation basis and reduce staff capacity while others had to work from home.

Taxi motorcyclists and cyclists were halted, while bars and restaurants were closed.

Few days later, Rwanda confirmed the first Coronavirus death on 31st May 2020.

That is when Rwandans who speculated that Coronavirus is like normal flu started witnessing the severity of the pandemic.

New cases soared that some localities were placed under lockdown. The country had already recorded 200 cases in August. At the time, the country took strict measures including the closure of some markets. Later in October 2020, restrictions were eased that schools halted in March were allowed to reopen.

Wedding ceremonies were allowed, churches were also allowed to reopen with limited participation and adhering to preventive measures. In the same month, the virus was also confirmed among prisons at different times. In November, the Government allowed sports among other activities following decrease in cases.

In December, the country recorded high rise in new infections across the country that deaths rose from 2 to 7 on daily basis.

On 4th January 2021, the Government imposed inter-district lockdown but was not enough to contain increasing cases. As the major hotspot for new cases, Kigali city was later placed under lockdown on 19th January 2021 while schools also halted operations.

Then lockdown was later lifted in February and businesses resumed adhering to preventive measures. Schools in Kigali city were also allowed to reopen.

Despite adverse effects of the pandemic, the country continues to expend much effort to contain further spread. Rwanda has so far received over 392, 000 Coronavirus vaccines currently distributed to different groups of people including frontline workers.

Rwanda plans to cover 60% of the population by June 2022.