Coronavirus: Rwanda imposes Africa's first lockdown

World Monday 23/March/2020 19:08 PM
By: Times News Service
Coronavirus: Rwanda imposes Africa's first lockdown

All unnecessary movements outside the home have been banned for an initial two weeks except for essential services such as health care and shopping for groceries.

Both public and private workers have also been ordered to work from home to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Rwanda also closed its borders completely, except for goods and cargo and returning citizens. However, they have to be quarantined for two weeks.

A section of Rwandans has welcomed the measures, but in a country where many survive from hand to mouth, uncertainty looms. And there are no possible bailouts from the central government to support small and medium enterprises, despite the unforeseeable future.

Meanwhile, authorities have warned business owners not to increase prices of basic commodities.

Before the shutdown, public gatherings like places of worship had been banned, and those who defied the orders were arrested, according to media reports.

Rwanda is known for imposing draconian measures whenever crises happen, and this time of the coronavirus, it was not any different. Recently, authorities ordered the demolition of structures built in wetlands because of floods that destroyed property, infrastructure, and in some cases claimed lives, a news agency reported in December 2019.

Mountain gorillas also at risk from coronavirus

As the virus infects more people around the world, conservationists are warning of the risk of Africa's endangered mountain gorilla. For that reason, Rwanda is also temporarily shutting down tourism and research activities in three national parks that are home to primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees.