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Rwanda: What Triggered the Spike in COVID-19 Cases?

by Edmund Kagire
7:54 am

On Monday, Rwanda recorded the highest number of New Coronavirus case in a single day since the outbreak of the pandemic in March -at 101 cases out of 2,498 tests that were done.

Of the new cases, 22 were recorded in Kigali, 3 in Rubavu, 2 in Kayonza, 1 in Kirehe but what came as a surprise were the 72 cases registered in a cluster of people in a detention centre in Ngoma district, Eastern Province, which the Ministry of Health said was a result of a suspected contact with the people in the Rusumo cluster.

Ngoma district has not been among the districts where COVID-19 is still prevalent along with Kayonza. Both districts in the Eastern Province lie on the road to Rusumo. Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said on Tuesday morning that out of the 22 cases identified in Kigali, half of them were recorded in the sectors of the city which were put under lockdown last week, in Kicukiro and Nyarugenge districts.

“It is true on Monday we registered the highest number of cases in a single day. In the City of Kigali, as you might know, there are some sectors which are under lockdown, half of the cases were registered in those sectors in Kicukiro and Nyarugenge,”

“The other half were contact traces of the people in those sectors, where an already infected person could have infected a workmate or any other person they got in contact with,” Dr Nsanzimana said on Radio Rwanda on Tuesday morning, adding however that the tracing has been done.

In the Eastern Province, the RBC head said that they have been observing a spike in numbers in the province, especially along the Kigali-Rusumo road, with the majority of the cases linked to people who get in contact with positive cases in the Rusumo cluster.

He explained that the 72 cases were registered in a detention centre at a police station, not a Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) facility, as it had been earlier clarified by the RCS Spokesperson SSP Hillary Sengabo. “The New Coronavirus spreads faster in conditions where people are closer to each other, especially in situations where observing social distancing is difficult, such as detention centres.

If one of the people for example who works in the centre gets infected with the virus, it becomes easy to spread it among that group of people,” “This has been observed in other countries, which is why we try to put more strict measures in such places which accommodate a big number of people. We are still assessing the situation in Ngoma to know what exactly happened but the preliminary findings we have is that the 72 cases are connected to the Rusumo cross-border cluster,” Dr Nsanzimana said, adding that they suspect there was possible contact with truck drivers.

Dr Nsanzimana said that they are currently conducting mass tests in the province, including all detention centres, to see the extent of new infections so that they can trace all contacts in order to rein in a possible second wave of new infections in that part of the country. Not yet widespread.

In Kigali, the RBC head said that mass testing in different parts of the city, targeting diverse groups of people, including all residents in the sectors where the lockdown was reintroduced last week, are being done to ascertain the extent of the second outbreak, which will determine which extra measures will be taken. He, however, said that the situation is still under control and people should not panic.

“From the numbers we have and the assessment we continue to do, the outbreak is not yet widespread in the City of Kigali. The cases we are seeing so far are concentrated in the sectors where the lockdown was introduced again,”

“However due to the fact that people are moving from one province to another, the pandemic can change face anytime, which is why we continue to do mass testing. Our testing capacity has also increased but the most important thing is that people should continue taking precautions because the risk remains high.”

He added that over 70 per cent of the new cases were detected in known places which are under control and tracing has been done.

“There is no cause for alarm at the moment, but indeed the number is very high in a single day, which should serve as a reminder to us that the virus is still around and adhering to measures the government put in place, in whatever we do, remains the only way to defeat it,” he said.

Before the Monday cases, the three highest numbers captured in a single day were on June 22 with 59 cases and June 14 and 2o with 41 cases respectively.

On Monday, Coronavirus cases worldwide passed 10 million, with more than 500,000 deaths, as countries like U.S and Brazil continued to see a surge in numbers while Mexico and Pakistan registered a spike in coronavirus related deaths. Currently global cases stand at 10,412,421 cases, out of which 508,228 people died and 5,668,668 recovered.

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