Rwanda again tightens Covid-19 measures as cases surge

Rwanda has lengthened its evening curfew and prevented movement in and out of the western area of Rusizi after a recent surge in cases of the new coronavirus.

Rwanda was one of the first to impose strict lockdown measures in Africa, on March 22, when it had only 19 cases, and partially lifted the measures on May 1, when it had officially recorded 225 cases and zero deaths.

However the country on Tuesday hit a record 217 cases in one day and has recorded a third of its 3,625 cases in the past 10 days, with authorities blaming the spike on complacency and fatigue with social distancing measures.

After a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame, the government announced late Wednesday that a national curfew would be tightened to 7pm-5am from the current 9pm to 5am.

"Because of increasing cases of coronavirus in Kigali City, public transport between Kigali and other districts has also been banned," read a statement from the government.

All transport is banned in and out of Rusizi where there has been a significant increase in cases.

"Schools which were expected to be reopened in September will also remain closed."

Other measures such as the closure of bars, wearing of masks in public, limiting of staff in offices and ban on public gatherings will remain in place.

Rwanda has opened up to tourists arriving on international flights, who must present a negative Covid-19 certificate, however land borders remain closed to foreigners. 

Neighbouring Uganda, which also had a strict lockdown from only a handful of cases in March, has also seen a surge in cases recently.

Elsewhere in East Africa, Ethiopia is recording the highest daily case numbers of the region since the start of the crisis, with almost 10,000 cases in the past week alone.

Kenya has seen cases drop but has maintained its evening curfew.

Tanzania remains an outlier, having not issued official numbers in four months and insisting it has no more cases.