Rwanda could be on course to return to full normalcy following a tremendous decline in New Coronavirus cases, which has resulted in the closing of the national Covid-19 treatment centre, with no patient remaining in admission.
Health officials say despite the positive trend, the country will not take any chances, with Covid-19 preventive measures set to remain in place at least in the coming weeks or months until the conditions permit a full reopening of the economy.
Appearing on Rwanda Television, the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, said that the past five months saw efforts to reduce Covid-19 infections pay off but warned that becoming complacent could lead to the virus rebounding.
On Monday, Dr. Nsanzimana tweeted photos of the last batch of health workers leaving the magnificent Nyarugenge District Hospital, which was turned into a national Covid-19 treatment centre in January this year, as the last patient was discharged. The hospital is set to resume normal operations today.
“In July 2021, Nyarugenge district hospital bed occupancy was 100 percent. Today no #COVID patient is remaining. Tomorrow [Tuesday] the hospital will reopen for general health services. We thank everyone who contributed to this progress, especially front-liners working tirelessly to save lives,” Dr. Nsanzimana tweeted on Monday evening.
A letter signed by Dr. Deborah Abimana, the director of the hospital, informs the general public that the facility, which was turned into a Covid-19 treatment centre before it could be fully unveiled, will now start receiving patients seeking general healthcare services after nearly a year handling only Covid-19 critical cases.
The decline in Covid-19 cases is reflected in the daily report of the Ministry of Health which on Monday, November 1, reported 29 news cases, out of 8,346 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, translating into a 0.3 percent positivity rate. A single death of a 73-year-old man was recorded in Gicumbi district.
Dr. Nsanzimana warned however that laxity could lead to the cases spiking, warning that preventive measures must continue to be adhered to as the festive season approaches. He cited upcoming events, including concerts as some of the activities that people need to go about carefully to avoid a relapse.
“As we approach the festive season, people will get in the mood to celebrate, but we have to make sure that in doing so we don’t set ourselves back because I am sure we all understand the situation our country and other countries have gone through due to Covid-19,” Dr. Nsanzimana said.
Rwanda has so far inoculated over 3.8 million people, over which over 2 million people have got both doses of the vaccine.
The RBC head however says that it is not enough to say that people can relax because the vaccine alone is not sufficient for full protection. He said that in about six months, there is a possibility of giving a booster shot particularly to vulnerable groups that are fully vaccinated.
He pointed out that while the vaccine is effective, it goes hand in hand with human action, which includes observing preventive guidelines, hence it is too early to say that the coast is clear because it can’t happen overnight.
“It is true that the vaccine has reduced the number of cases and people getting critically ill, leading to the reopening of the economy but we shouldn’t celebrate early,” he said.
“We need to work together and ensure that Nyarugenge hospital does not go back to receiving Covid-19 patients instead of providing regular services to patients as it should,” he added.
He pointed out that a study is being done to ascertain if children below the age of 18 can be effectively vaccinated against Covid-19.
As of November 1, only Kanyinya Health Centre remains on standby to receive Covid-19 patients. A cabinet meeting will convene mid this month to issue new Covid-19 guidelines.