Covid-19: Rwanda imposes shutdown, suspends 'unnecessary movements'

22 March 2020 - 07:29 By AFP
Eugene Amuri, a vendor at the Kimironko market, wears a handmade "kitenge" cloth mask as he attempts to protect himself against Covid-19, in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 17 2020.
Eugene Amuri, a vendor at the Kimironko market, wears a handmade "kitenge" cloth mask as he attempts to protect himself against Covid-19, in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 17 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Maggie Andresen

Rwanda has suspended all "unnecessary movements" outside the home and clamped down on travel across its borders, in one of the toughest measures yet imposed in sub-Saharan Africa to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"Unnecessary movements and visits outside the home are not permitted," the government announced in a statement late on Saturday, excusing trips for health care, food, or banking.

All borders are closed except for the passage of goods and cargo and returning Rwandan citizens, read the statement, which also announced the closure of all but the most essential markets and restrictions on travel between cities and districts.

Rwanda as of Saturday had recorded 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest number in the East Africa region.

All commercial flights to the country had already been suspended, and all bars closed.

Anyone arriving in Rwanda will be subject to 14-day quarantine at designated locations.

International visitors for tourism and trade shows are a major source of revenue for Rwanda and the capital Kigali in particular, which markets itself as an attractive location for global conferences.

But authorities moved quickly to curb fears of a coronavirus outbreak, banning large outdoor events such as concerts and political gatherings before the country had even confirmed a case of the illness.


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