Rwanda's capital city of Kigali, usually bustling with tourists and locals, turned into a virtual ghost town on Sunday as the city was placed under a novel coronavirus lockdown.
Bars, hardware shops, hair salons and clothing stores have all been shut down in the latest measures announced by the Rwandan prime minister's office on Saturday to contain a further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The city's streets are now devoid of traffic, most notably motorcycle taxis. Anyone walking through the city is told to go home unless they can prove to police that they are going to buy or provide essential services, such as healthcare, groceries or banking. "We request Rwandan citizens to be responsible enough and adhere to the new COVID-19 preventive measures put in place by the government," Rwandan national police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera told Xinhua.
Kabera noted that preventive measures must be implemented for the greater health of the population."Rwandan police and other security organs are not taking any chances in this critical moment. People should stay home. Those who are caught loitering around will be punished by the law," the police spokesperson said.
According to him, police and sister security agencies have been deployed nationwide to enforce the implementation of preventive measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.
"As we battle against further spread of COVID-19 in our country, we call upon Rwandan citizens to remain calm and follow the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization's guidelines on how to prevent themselves from contracting the virus," Rwandan Health Minister Daniel Ngamije told Xinhua.Ngamije said the 17 COVID-19 patients in Rwanda had already been in close contact with over 688 people, and only 68 percent of them have been identified so far.
Those with symptoms have been tested and others have been told to self-isolate at home, as medical personnel continue to monitor them, he said. The minister said all patients in the country are in a stable condition and none have been put on ventilators or are in intensive care units.
He called on Rwandans to observe restrictions, wash their hands regularly, avoid unnecessary large gatherings, and report symptoms by calling the toll-free number 114 or health community workers for immediate medical attention.
Rwanda on Saturday announced stricter measures for the next two weeks in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, banning unnecessary movements of residents, as well as border closures.