Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: Rwandan media highlight ongoing relief distribution drive, public health response to pandemic

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - A series of public health responses to cope with the consequences of coronavirus (COVID-19) dominated the Rwandan media this week.

The newspapers also commented largely on the new measures aimed at preventing further spread of the disease, and minimize loss of lives across member- countries of the East African Community (EAC).

Under the headline “Over 140 Djs, ‘bouncers’ get food relief”, the English daily, The New Times, wrote that a total of 147 members of the entertainment fraternity including 85 venue security personnel commonly known as ‘bouncers’ and 62 DJs had so far benefited from City of Kigali (CoK)’s food relief supply after they were affected by measures to fight COVID-19.

According to the newspaper, the entertainment industry is one of the sectors that were adversely affected by the anti-COVID-19 measures, with bars, night clubs, and musical and entertainment concerts all on hold for nearly five months now.

DJs and bouncers are some of the people whose places of work were suspended and have since not been given the green light to operate after the government declared a countrywide lockdown on March 21 allowing only essential services to remain in operation.

In a related development, the Rwandan government inaugurated on 28 March a support initiative for vulnerable families who had been affected by the measures to fight the virus.

While the numbers of those the City authorities have been feeding has significantly reduced with the lifting of the lockdown, a senior municipality official in Kigali city told 'The New Times' that “the City of Kigali (CoK) is currently still feeding over 3,500 families that are or have been under lockdown”.

In another article, the semi-private, KT PRESS, said, as part of relaxing lockdown measures, Rwanda is looking forward to reopening schools.

Although it is not very clear when this would happen, the newspaper quoted Rwandan Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije as saying that it would be too early at a time the country was still registering 40 cases in a day.

According to KT Press, members of parliament have also expressed a similar concern that it is too early.

Cases have kept reducing ever since but safety could still be a challenge in schools.

Commenting on similar efforts at both national and regional levels, The New Times wrote that East African Community (EAC) partner states had agreed to start launching a regional electronic cargo and driver tracking system mid next week, as one of the measures aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus disease, and minimize loss of lives.

This comes following a successful pilot phase that started earlier on June 15.

During the implementation phase, the newspaper wrote that  the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) would be launched at five border points.

After Rusumo on 12 August next will be the Mutukula border between Tanzania and Uganda on 14 August; the Malaba border between Kenya and Uganda on 21 August; Namanga border between Tanzania and Kenya on 28 August, and finally Kobero border between Burundi and Tanzania on 31 August.

Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, The New Times reported that the EAC leadership activated a regional contingency plan for public health emergencies and events of public health concern whose implementation is championed by the EAC Ad hoc Regional Coordination Committee (EARCC).

Through this body, a regional COVID-19 response plan was developed and adopted to ensure a well-coordinated regional response to the pandemic, the newspaper said.

In another article, the private-owned Taarifa wrote that as Rwanda grapples with the effects of COVID-19 and the economy adjusting to the new normal, the private sector needed more support than ever before.

Under the headline 'Rwanda Private Sector Seeks More Support To Revive Businesses', the newspaper reported that businesses in Rwanda were affected although some were soldiering on and that recovery would not take long.

According to Robert Bapfakurera, Chairman of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), “Tourism related businesses have been heavily affected but government has put in place a recovery fund to help hotels and air transport to resume”.

However, a senior official at PSF told the newspaper that the Recovery Fund would not provide free money to businesses but beneficiaries would access funds from banks at reduced interest rates.


-0-    PANA     TWA/RA   8Aug2020