Rwanda: Covid-19 makes Kigali a ghost city!

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

Kigali, the resplendent capital of Rwanda is since July 17, 2021, a city almost dead. From the small roads which meander even its lowlands, to the large alters which are usually bulging, the city is quiet deserted rather crisscrossed by all the security organs. Checkpoints are set up here and there to prevent people from wandering around without serious causes. Faced with this imperative, the population is docile and obedient! But until when?

In the expectations of everyone, Rwanda has, once again, decreed the confinement of the capital Kigali, from Saturday July 17 until July 26, 2021, to try to curb the surge of the prevalence of Covid- 19 recorded in recent weeks. “Citizens are invited to considerably reduce social interactions and limit travel to only essential services,” the Rwandan government announced in a statement released on July 14, 2021. “Movements and visits outside the home are prohibited except for crucial services such as health, the purchase of food, banks “continues the text. It is the “Guma mu rugo” (“stay home”), a word that grows goosebumps in thousands of Rwandan families, who even generally abnormal conditions only eat once a day, and this, after having carried out  manual work outside their households. The 10 days of hope for the reduction of the Covid-19 outbreak for the State, 10 macabre days for many families who depend on the informal sector, and even formal, because only food providing shops, health services and financial institutions are allowed to open!

The city is under human quarantine from other provinces except for food supplies. But the Cabinet did not dare to touch on the key businesses of the RPF because arrivals and departures at Kigali airport are however maintained, as well as tourist activities, in accordance with the health protocols into force.

This is all due to the new surge of cases of Covid-19 contamination, the emergence of new strains of the virus such as the Delta strain and the increase in deaths linked to the coronavirus. This is the third deadliest wave ever. Here is the overview in figures.

-The figures that justify the confinement.

Since the beginning of July 2021, the surge in contamination cases has never been weakened!

The figures show that the first year of Covid-19 in the country of a Thousand Hills, that is, the year 2020, ended with only 92 deaths. But in 16 days, from July 1 to July 16, 2021, the recorded covid-19 death cases are 188. In 16 days, the death cases are more than double every nine months of 2020. Until July 16 2021, 1,762,774 people have taken the Covid-19 test, of which 52,552 are infected, that is to say about 3%, 624 deaths or about 2% of cases of infected. The city of Kigali alone has 19,293 infected people, i.e. 52.4% of which 327 have died. With these figures everyone expected with a certain inevitability the finally decreed lockdown.

July 17 and 18, 2021 had their macabre lot: on July 17 there were 1997 new cases of infection out of 50,880 tests or 3.9%, among these new cases Kigali has 1391, or 69.65%, there are had 12 deaths; on July 18 there were 2,773 new cases of infection out of 73,608 tests or 3.7%, Kigali has 2,225 or 80.24%, there were 11 deaths. But why this outbreak which does not weaken?

The causes that are pointed out for this third wave, the deadliest than the previous ones, are first of all the negligence, both administrative and political, not to mention an abandonment of preventive measures by the population: people are fed up with living a life. which is not! The Minister of Health Dr, Daniel Ngamije was indignant in the first days of this wave: “In recent days, the positive cases of Covid-19 and those of hospitalized patients have increased, among the causes which cause this increase alarming, it is that there has been a carelessness vis-à-vis preventive measures ”.

Minister Daniel Ngamije warned: “We must take draconian measures harder than before and put them into practice. It has to be before the situation gets worse than it is today, as has seen in some countries. ”

 Next to that, there is the variant strain of the Delta coronavirus, whose infected cases already represent more than 60% of new cases. This layer, which is raging in India, is more disastrous because its severity of infection is 1000 times more than “ordinary” strains, and its incubation period is two days when it was known to be 14 days. . Minister Ngamije Daniel had indeed warned the population, in these terms: “Scientific research has just concluded that the virus spreads in the air and more easily in cramped and poorly ventilated places. And when there is someone who is sick, he contaminates others by simple breathing, when he speaks or when he coughs […] Let us get into the habit of working outside buildings, in the open air where it is. possible, let’s open the windows to ventilate our workplaces, especially the classes and services that receive a lot of people such as health services, banks, administrative offices, public transport buses, during trips ”.

But the people are not the only ones to blame. To see, there is a very remarkable neglect in the health policy of Rwanda. The people are left to themselves. In fact, the lack of enthusiasm in vaccination shows that vaccination had started with other motives: it was to serve the mercantile spirit of the Kagame regime. In fact, vaccination of the so-called high-risk categories began on March 5, 2021. Worse, after 4.5 months only 406,004 people received two doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. This number represents only 3.05% of the Rwandan population estimated at 13,303,376 according to World meter. Why then this lack of enthusiasm?

In fact, the vaccination enthusiasm of the departure, last March, was due to the preparation of the summit of Heads of State and Commonwealth of Governments (CHOGM), a meeting that Paul Kagame wishes very much because it remains the only means of give him some air to breathe after a lot of forfeits on his head and the isolation that looms, and to do business too. The Minister of Health himself is alarmed that the national campaign to immunize 60% of the population by next year has so far reached only 3% of the country’s inhabitants. Here we have the right to ask the question of knowing the bases on which this planning would have been made. In fact, Rwanda has set itself the following vaccination targets: 30% of its population, i.e. 3,991,000 people at the end of 2021 and 60% or 7,982,000 people in 2022. A chimera if we find that in more than four months, we have just vaccinated 406,004 or 3.05% instead of 10% if we make simple calculations with the rule of three! And without mounting the hoax, this gives the Rwandan population chills. Any Rwandan worthy of the name, even a simple peasant can tell you, and we are surprised, that he never understands how Kagame can send airborne convoys of 1000 soldiers to Mozambique, at the cost of billions of monies instead of vaccinating his population!

No more carelessness!

Rwanda had initially succeeded in containing the pandemic, imposing from March 2020 one of the first strict confinements on the African continent, as well as extensive campaigns for the detection and tracing of cases. But what followed was utter neglect, which created the second wave until this raging third. After these draconian measures announced on July 17, 2021, what remained was their implementation. The Government thus mobilized a panoply of security organs to ensure strict control. From the basic administrative unit that is the village to the national level, men in uniform have been mobilized. And there are many, of all stripes.

First, there is the observation of the curfew, from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., which remains in effect throughout the country, where businesses must close at 5 p.m. The population is docile on this point, and gets home on time

From 6 pm the whole country sleeps, the din of the city of Kigali is silent, it looks like a center of meditation!

During the day, checkpoints are set up everywhere in every corner of the capital, from the suburbs to the city center especially at very hot places like “Downtown” and Nyabugogo, the gateway to the capital. And you cannot pass the checkpoint without justifying the reason for the trip. To go to an ATM point, in the district of Nyamirambo, in the vicinity of the famous place called “Cosmos”, Nyamirambo the district of resourceful men, I had to go to three checkpoints over an interval of more or less 3 kilometers. The streets are deserted, no one comes out, and that portends the worst! And I asked myself a thousand questions. How will these little commission agents of objects as simple as the earpiece, who approach every passerby, survive? How will the owners of these small restaurants swarming under the verandas of department stores for tea, chapati and samossa or samoussa (Sambusa in Kinyarwanda) face these ten days! How are these women who sell house-to-house fruits and vegetables, called “Abanyagataro”, actually going to survive these days? Yet these are the people to think about before any measure! My only interlocutors on this journey were the men in uniform! This is Kigali, a dead city waiting to come back to life after ten days. But testing a 20 percent sample of Kigali’s population raises fears of the worst. The Covid-19 is indeed here, with its terrifying strain, the Delta. The statement also spoke of the containment of the districts of Burera, Gicumbi, Kamonyi, Musanze, Nyagatare, Rubavu, Rwamagana and Rutsiro. But the countryside can easily defeat Coronavirus than the city, because quite simply their stores are their fields!

So here is Kigali once again put on a lockdown regime with all the consequences it brings! The impoverishment of the poor, the hunger which worsens the perennially precarious situation that prevails in the country, because, let us remember, about 4 million Rwandans barely eat once a day. Families are exposed to destruction, unemployment, loss of meaning or taste for life – in short, the Absurd. A life or death situation where the people are abandoned to themselves. And instead of thinking about vaccinating his people, Kagame thinks about demonstrating his military power, by sending 1,000 soldiers to plunder Mozambique for his own account.

Kigali is now a dead city, a monster that risks swallowing its own children, because hunger feeds! And, looking at the trend in the numbers, we would expect the most drastic measures

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