Panafrican News Agency

Rwandan media assess development in easing COVID-19 lockdown measures

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - Rwandan newspapers this week gave wide coverage to ongoing efforts to ease COVID-19 lockdown measures  especially with a recent announcement by one German biomedical institute which declared Rwanda as no longer a Covid-19 risk area.

The English daily, 'The New Times', reported that Germany’s renowned Robert Koch Institute has announced that it is no longer considering Rwanda as a Covid-19 risk area, owing to the country’s recent containment measures against the virus.

The newspaper reported that the announcement came after the country had not featured on the institute’s list of Covid-19 risk areas in the past four days.

This makes Rwanda the only country in the region that has not featured on the list, the newspaper said.

According to the Germany Institute, the classification as a risk area is based on joint analysis and the decision by the German Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior, for construction and home.

The announcement comes on the same day Rwanda surpassed 100,000 tests for coronavirus, according to Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Director General at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC).

“Today, National Reference Lab has surpassed 100,000 Covid-19 and confirmed 646 positive cases,” he added.

According to Nsanzimana, Rwanda’s testing capacity increased 15 fold in 4 months and has been scaled up across the country.

In another article, the privately-owned "The Chronicles" reported that Rwanda has set up a separate bank account where all money being mobilized to deal with impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is deposited.

The newspaper said that prior to this new measure, all government expenditures have previously been handled through a single account system managed by the Finance Ministry. It is from this system that government pays suppliers and all other expenses.

Currently, Rwandan Government is mobilising nearly US$500 million from different sources, including grants and concessional loans, to cover the economic hole created by the lockdown implemented beginning in mid March. Already, loans have come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and bilateral donors.

'The Chronicles' reported that inside the country, private companies have also offered different amounts of money, in addition to food and sanitary supplies meant for the most affected.

Government has told the IMF, through the annual “Letter of Intent” published this Thursday, that no single Franc from COVID-19 “contributions” will be wasted, according to the newspaper.

In another article, entitled "COVID-19: Rwanda Installs Testing Facilities At Border Points", the semi-privately-owned daily, 'KT Press', reported that Rwanda has put in place all the necessary facilities and means to do cross-border testing for New Coronavirus cases especially among transporters of goods and cargo as part of the measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, said at a media briefing earlier this week in Kigali that the facilities were set up as part of the efforts by countries in the East African Community to work together to handle cross border transmission of COVID-19, which continues to be a major challenge in the region.

“We want to ensure that nearly all customs-related tasks are handled at the entry points. Among other things, we are looking at how we can have accommodation facilities for drivers at the entry points where they can comfortably reside as they wait to offload or process trans-shipment of goods,” the senior Rwandan Government official said.

Among other options Rwanda is using is to dispatch trucks and drivers from Rwanda to the entry points who take the goods up to their destination. 

"We are also doing swapping of drivers where trucks which can’t offload at border points are disinfected and new drivers drive them up to their destination,” Gatete said.

In the meanwhile, the newspaper reported that Cross border transmission of new Coronavirus remains a major challenge between regional countries, with truck drivers and their assistants finding themselves in the spotlight while management of cases and approach differs from one country to another.

With the border districts of Rusizi (Southwest)and Rubavu (Northwest) remaining in isolation due to a spike in cases attributed to transporters and traders, the emerging cases have continued to make it difficult for Rwanda to fully contain the spread of the virus, the newspaper said.

-0- PANA TWA/VAO 20June2020