The Minister of Health. Dr. Daniel Ngamije has explained the reason behind the government decision to extend the existing Covid-19 preventive measures by five more days, pointing out that it was informed by the current trend of the virus.
Appearing on national television on Sunday, Dr. Ngamije said that following an assessment done based on the results of the recent mass testing exercise, they are confident that five more days would see the positivity rate decline, bringing the spread under control.
Minister Ngamije explained that since July 17 when the new measures took effect, mass testing was conducted to assess the Covid-19 situation in the country and another round of mass testing was done on July 23 and 24 to compare.
“The mass testing covered 161 cells selected randomly in the City of Kigali, with each cell represented by 15 households out of 100, to get a clear picture of the situation.
“We found that of those we tested, 3,965 positive cases, reflecting a 3.7 positivity rate. Using the extrapolation method, it shows you that there were over 40, 000 who had Covid-19 in these cells where we tested,” Dr. Ngamije said.
During the first mass testing on 17-18 July, 30,423 people were tested in 45 cells in Kigali City, of which 1810 people were infected with Covid-19, while the second round on July 23, saw 35,828 people tested, returning 1,472 positive cases.
He said this was a serious challenge because some cells had between 5 to 10 people out of 100 infected.
“In some, it was above 10. This showed us that Covid-19 is among us. It confirmed what we started seeing in June when numbers started going up,”
“It started with 25 patients. Remember we had discharged all of them. In a short time, we reached 136 patients, the hospital was full. We opened another treatment centre in Gatenga with 69 beds, it also got full,” Dr. Ngamije explained.
The Ministry then designated Gatsata Health Centre as a treatment centre but it also got overwhelmed and it was forced to reopen Kanyinya Treatment Centre which also got full.
The health minister said that Gasabo district which had a positivity rate of 5.6 percent, one week after lockdown, the positivity rate declined to 4.4 percent, while Nyarugenge which was at 5.7 percent is now at 3.8 percent positivity rate.
Kicukiro district, which was the most affected, saw the positivity rate decline from 6.3 percent to 3.8 percent but it is yet to go below 3 percent, where the Ministry can confidently say it is under control.
“Clearly it is the effect of the lockdown. We believe 5 more days are enough if we continue with this trend, numbers will continue to decline but that is if people pay attention to Covid-19 preventive measures,”
“Cells which were in red are now turning yellow and green but because they observe the measures but in other cells where people have not been properly adhering to measures, they are likely to fall into red again,” the Minister warned.
Among the cells still the common factor they see are many people who convene to do essential activities like road construction in Kicukiro and preparing marshlands for the agricultural season.
He says measures will be tightened in those cells for the next 5 days.
In the 8 districts under lockdown, 4 of them still have a positivity rate of above 5 percent while 4 have gone below 5 percent but Dr. Ngamije said the prevalence rate of the virus is still worrisome.
“Rubavu for example has done great. The positivity rate is now at 1.7 percent, yet we all knew how the situation in the district was, based on the new cases we were receiving, including critical ones recently,”
He said that the other districts which are still 5 percent, including Rwamagana, Kamonyi, Burera and Nyagatare, put in an effort, the positivity rate can go below 3 percent in 1 week.
Minister Dr Ngamije pointed out that there are currently six variants of Coronavirus in Rwanda including the known ones like Delta and others which are not known yet and are still being studied.
In the tests conducted on July 17 and 18, they found that 137 people who were infected with the Delta Variant, and it currently accounts for 56.6 percent of the new cases.
“Delta is currently the most aggressive variant in the world, with more than 50 percent of the new infections linked to it,” Dr. Ngamije said, adding that it is through strict adherence to measures that it can only be tamed.
The Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, thanked citizens for cooperating in the recent mass testing exercise by turning up in big numbers, pointing out that it shows the determination of the people to beat the pandemic.
He said the government will provide additional food assistance to vulnerable households to cover for the extra 5 days because what had been supplied in the initial distribution exercise was meant for 10 days.
“In the initial exercise, over 275, 000 households received food relief items in the City of Kigali. That is nearly 60, 000 more than the expected number of households which had been counted, which was 211, 000,”
“This means that there more households which needed support. More people called in to say that they needed support. So far 95 percent of the people who needed support got it,” Minister Gatabazi said.
He said that local leaders have been directed to crosscheck and see if there are more people that need support, adding that the issues that appeared in the first exercise, such as delays and shortages will be addressed.
“The trucks were loaded today to dispatch food items in the districts, by tomorrow, all districts will have the food items,” Gatabazi said.
The five days start counting tomorrow. On Sunday, the country registered 618 new cases and 15 deaths.