Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

Rwanda’s itch to beat Coronavirus eclipses rising economic pains – the dead do no business

H.E President Paul Kagame avoiding handshaking as one of the measures to mitigate Coronavirus spreading further and has vehemently encouraged his people to religiously follow the instructions by the Ministry of Health and the government of Rwanda (PHOTO/Courtesy)

By George Kalisa

Human traffic is scanty. Only a few trucks carrying goods and cargo and food items are moving. Police are doing the surveillance but with unusual vigilance. I am stopped by one of them who asks where I am going and coming from as I display my Press Card.

This Afande raises his left hand, giving me a signal to move backwards to create a social distance of one metre apart and quickly sends a second signal allowing me to continue with my plans.  I’m just a stone’s throw distance away from my home heading to AirTel Building, the one overlooking the Amahoro National Stadium to buy internet, then go back into hibernation in my home.

So small is the number people on the streets that even a person with a very poor Mathematics background like me, would count them. It’s around eight o’clock in the morning, one of the peak hours in Kigali during normal life.

“All employees (public and private) shall work from home, except for those providing essential services” reads the government directive that came into force on March21.

The Afande knows and appreciates what a person subscribing to a group of people calling themselves “The learned friends” doesn’t know and not about to know. Guess who this one is. Last year, Counsel Evode Uwizeyemana, then State Minister charged with Constitutional and Legal Affairs called Rwandan journalists, imihirimbiri, suggesting high level of ignorance about their place in society as the Fourth Estate.  

Anyway, thanks to Rwanda National Police for braving the harsh weather conditions – sunny or rainy while doing surveillance to save our lives since Rwanda went into a lockdown. Bravo!  

Rwanda’s measures on prevention of Coronavirus   

Worldwide, the death toll is now nearing 20, 000 and COVID-19 is real with no vaccine and treatment yet. On March25, more than 446,000 people had been infected with Coronavirus-19 worldwide and over 19,790 had died while recoveries stood at 112,043. Everyone is at risk, but the elderly at a higher risk.

As of March25, cases of Coronavirus had reached 41, nearly half of them imported from abroad, officials said.

 Symptoms of this deadly disease according to medics include: dry cough, high body temperatures (fever) and shortness of breath.

The Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) has to this effect provided a toll-free number 114 (or *114#) for anyone who experiences any of these symptoms for automated screening. They can also email:callcentre@rbc.gov.rw or send a whatsApp message on +250788202080 or contact a nearby medical professional.     

Aside from a nationwide lockdown, Rwanda has suspended public transport including services by buses, motorcycle taxis and human traffic (pedestrians) unless deemed very necessary.

Thus, all residents are required to stay at home for an initial period of 14 days, effective March21, and unnecessary movements and visits, currently seen as unsafe, are prohibited, save “for essential services such as food shopping, banking, healthcare and for the personnel performing such services”. Public servants are encouraged to work from home.

But, trucks of food items and cargo are noted affected by the government directives. The other vehicles allowed are those involved in delivery of essential services such as security, health, water, electricity among others.

Social gatherings are prohibited as well as markets, bars and shops, except those selling essential items like fuel, medicine, hygiene and cleaning products like pharmacies.  

Places of worship, entertainment and games, schools and universities were altogether closed in time.  

Citizens are encouraged to keep a social distance of about one metre from one another alongside washing their hands with soap and disinfections.  

The authorities in Kigali also agreed on screening and mandatory quarantine for all travellers, facilitation of goods and services in the region as well as information sharing. Make an alarm if you find anyone behaving recklessly, is a call to everyone.  

Related to this is the closure of borders “except for goods and cargo and returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents who will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated locations” reads the directive.

All the measures the GoR took align well with the World Health Organisation (WHO) measures.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General (PHOTO/Courtesy)

“Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the #coronavirus and buying time – but they are defensive measures. To win the #coronavirus we have to attack as well,” tweeted Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General.

“Washing hands frequently, avoiding handshakes, practicing social distancing of at least 1m away from people, among others. We urge everyone to follow the health guidelines (supported by science and best management practices)” tweeted H.E President Paul Kagame.

“As always, we will overcome these difficult times through solidarity and working together. This will require the discipline Rwandans have always shown in confronting challenges and getting good results,” he added.

I cannot help to think that the government of Rwanda loves health people following the energy with which it is enforcing these measures, but short-sighted people, especiafically, Rwandan diaspora in the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) have described as draconian.

This bespectacled, bald-headed gentleman with a PhD, I met him in his Gisozi house one time in the company of my old friend Ignatius Kabagambe when he was still serving the GoR, now living in Canada, could be lacking something [I’m being too polite], for him to think of politicking when the entire world is restless, scratching heads to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

He had invited me to say thank you for a story I had written in The New Times on the scrupulous management of the defunct RIMEG, then, the producers of Umuseso, Champion and Newsline, which he said was profound, factual and called for. I remember the yellow bananas (locally known as kamara) he gave us as he was busy scribbling something in his notebook in a sitting room more disorganized than mine.  

I advise the disgruntled, self-seeking and callous Professor to go for a mental checkup and/or a COVID-19 test. In return for the banana reception at Gisozi, I will foot the bill for his test kits. Let me hope he will pick sense in this piece and sweep his political differences [read hate and frustrations] under the carpet to join the rest of the world in the struggle contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

Many that read his weird Facebook attacks on Kigali, at the time the world is battling the Coronavirus pandemic, will agree with results that indicate that the Professor and his RNC sycophants who thumbed him up are positive for ‘political COVID-13″ and COVID-19 and in critical condition.

Anyway, his misplaced utterances against the Kigali administration did not go well with the Kigali after finding it wanting and worth ignoring. The Canada based Professor recites his criticisms of Rwanda’s leadership like the Lord’s Prayer. But, with his latest comments on Rwanda’s response to Coronavirus pandemic, he has surely exposed himself to whoever doubted his madness.  

The announcement of new cases by the Ministry of Health, which the Professor denies has become a daily ritual and these updates have impacted positively on the citizens, and their responsiveness to prevention measures has been on the upward trend since the first case was discovered mid-March.

The dead cannot do business, even in Heaven we shall only do worshipping and praising. So, life here and NOT life after is very important for Rwandans and any other citizens of the world.   

Screening exercise (PHOTO/Courtesy)

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