As Kigali city and eight districts prepare to enter a new total lockdown on Saturday 17, the third of its kind since the pandemic hit the country on 14 March, the Government says relief food will be distributed to identified vulnerable households during the lockdown to keep them resilient.
According to the Ministry of Local Government, about 211,000 families will be given food starting next week.
The City of Kigali and eight district in different provinces of the country, including Burera, Gicumbi, Kamonyi, Nyagatare, Musanze, Rubavu, Rwamagana, and Rutsiro will enter a 10-day lockdown from July 17 to 26, 2021, to stop the surging of the pandemic.
“The food support will be distributed depending on the number of people per family, the food ratio will be distributed depending on the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) measures. All the vulnerable people will be supported, we are requesting the local authorities to register them,” Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Minister of Local Government, said.
“Other people to be given food, are those in the Home-Based Care (HBC), receiving Covid-19 treatment. These categories of people are supposed to register at the nearby local authorities, for example, the village leaders, sectors, and districts. Patients in HBC will be given food because some can’t come out of their houses to go to markets,” Gatabazi said.
He said that districts should conduct meetings with churches and non-governmental organizations to find a way to further help vulnerable people that have been put under lockdown.
The decision to lock down the city with other eight districts was made by a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Wednesday 14, at Village Urugwiro to review preventive measures against the Covid-19.
Gatabazi explained cabinet resolutions and decisions during the press conference on Thursday 15.
The decision follows surging cases and deaths attributed to the mutating nature of the virus, which the Ministry of Health said was a delta variant.
From Saturday 17, the movements and visits outside the home will not be allowed except for essential services, including health care, food shopping, or banking.
The daily updates from the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday 14, Rwanda registered 934 news cases and 9 deaths, bringing a total number of recorded cases to 50,742 and deaths to 607.
Dr. Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health said that after the 10-day lockdown, mass testing will be conducted to analyze the status of the pandemic in the locked districts, sectors, and villages.
“We are preventing having many patients. But also stopping the further prevention, this is not the first time we decided to put the lockdown, this is the third time. The difference is that we are dealing with a different variant,” Dr. Ngamije said.
He added that it is a more dangerous variant given the surging news and deaths cases.
“The decision of the lockdown was timely because of many patients and increasing patients that need hospital care. The decisions target reducing the surging cases, but also giving health care to those that need them,” Dr. Ngamije said.
Covid-19 Self-testing kits
This week, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) announced plans to authorize a COVID-19 self-test detection methodology that will enable citizens to know their health status at a time when the SARS COV-2 virus is taking different forms.
“They are devices that you can put in the mouth for 15 minutes. You remove it and read the measures to know your status. So far, they aren’t being used massively because of high prices. It doesn’t require trained personnel. It is user-friendly; you can test your family members and decide what to do, depending on results,” Dr. Ngamije said.
“As we started with other Covid-19 tests, the prices kept reducing. It will be more affordable with time,” Dr. Ngamije said.
According to Dr. Ngamije currently, the unit cost of the Covid-19 self-testing device is sold at $20.
Though the government has been conducting random public tests especially on motorists, citizens who intend to attend meetings and travel are required to take one of the tests depending on the standing conditions.
Some of them have however raised concerns of inability to raise the required amount especially at a time when the pandemic has also taken a toll on the economy and financial capacities of many Rwandans.
According to the Ministry of Health, the Covid-19 has reached a level where contact tracing has failed because of community transmission.
“When any pandemic reaches the level of community transmission, it fails the contact tracing because you can’t know who has infected you or where you got infected from,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Health in charge of Primary Healthcare, Lt Col Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga said.
Dr. Mpunga said that the mass testing will be conducted, with testing several variants.
Who will continue to work during the lockdown?
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM says the only essential business will be permitted to operate from July 17, 2021.
Only essential services, such as health care, food shopping, or banking will be allowed in the city of Kigali and eight districts that have been put under lockdown.
“The online trading will continue, food transportation, banks, and mobile money. The garbage collectors will also continue with their work, the customs and Rwanda revenue services will also continue, petroleum and diesel trade will also continue,” Beata Habyarimana, Minister of Minicom said.
“The allowed commercial services will work with 30% of their employees, with respect to all the preventive measures. The food, hygiene, masks, packaging, and construction factories will also continue to operate, but of course the selected ones. Their selection depended on their production capacity,” Habyarimana said.
She added that the commercial restrictions aimed at reducing the number of employees who walk to work, but also stop overcrowding in factories and markets.
Police warn against flouting measures
At the time people are expected to be in their homes during the third phase lockdown, Police has warned people who adamantly walk outside their homes for visitations and for other unnecessary reasons.
The Rwanda National Police (RNP) said, some people could be preparing to create ‘lame’ excuses to not stay in their homes as has been the case in two previous lockdowns. The RNP Spokesperson, CP. John Bosco Kabera, said that Police will arrest and impose fines on people deliberately caught violating measures.
“We know people are now preparing to come up with reasons to go out of their homes. However, they should know that Police knows those excuses and we are ready for them. People who need clearance to move from their homes should go to the concerned authorities,”
“Traders should go to MINICOM, agriculture and livestock service providers should go to the Ministry of Agriculture. People should not come to overcrowd at the police stations, it is not allowed,” CP Kabeera said.
According to CP. Kabera, over 119000 people were arrested for breaking Covid-19 preventive measures in the last two weeks.
Among them, 5000 were arrested in bars at the moment they are closed to stop the spreading of the Covid-19.
“These are the people we managed to arrest, but there are some we didn’t see. But they are also warned because the pandemic is still around. We are promising people, whether those living in the city of Kigali and 8 districts that will be in lockdown or elsewhere, those breaking the guidelines will be arrested and punished,” CP Kabera said.
CP Kabera said that people living in Kigali city and eight districts should prepare enough for the lockdown and respect all the pandemic prevention guidelines.