Rwanda COVID-19: Your lockdown questions answered

Wednesday March 25 2020

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Many streets of Kigali look empty as business activities suspended due to covid-19. PHOTO | CYRIL Ndegeya  

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Many people are wondering about what to do and what not to do during this lockdown that has been caused by the spread of Coronavirus :

Will I be able to leave my house to exercise?

The simple answer is no. In order to maintain social distancing, everyone is required to remain in their homes and avoid unnecessary movements, and that includes not exercising on the streets or in the gyms.

Those with large compounds at home can jog and run from within their homes, while anyone else can do simple exercises at home to keep fit.

Will I be able to leave the house to go to the supermarket or market?

Yes, you will be able to go to the nearest market or supermarket should you require groceries.
You will also be able to seek medical care, visit the pharmacy, get petrol and access banking services between 9am and 3pm.

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All pharmacies are open and have been warned against hiking their prices. Food markets around home communities and main markets around Kigali remain open only to sell essential food items.

As everyone is well aware, unnecessary movements are prohibited, so abusing the provision could land the offender in police custody or be forced to pay heavy fines.

Some are wondering how authorities are going to ‘strictly control’ movement if people are allowed to buy groceries, go to clinic or pharmacy, to the bank or just for fuel at a filling station?

Police has warned that lots of roadblocks will be erected across the country and pedestrians and vehicles moving will have to answer multiple questions regarding their movements. Anyone found to be violating the lockdown rules will be detained or fined.

This will come down to self-management and discipline and recognizing that abiding by the lockdown is for the common good.

Can a lockdown period be extended?

Yes, the lockdown period can be extended.

For now, it is active for an initial period that will run up to mid-April. Many coronavirus cases have been identified since the lockdown was announced on 21 March, so it will depend on how the situation will be by the time the two weeks are over.

Will students who have to study via online learning be accommodated by cell phone operators to receive data/free access to learning resources?

Yes this is possible. The ministry of education, the University of Rwanda and schools have uploaded learning material on their websites (ttps://elearning.ur.ac.rw/).

This has also been supplemented by telecom companies that have made accessing these websites free for this period.

In case of water leaks and power outages, service providers are allowed to be called in because all emergency staff related to power and water will remain available to assist with problems. For Wasac, clients can call 0788 181 427 and 0781 722 877 for REG.

What should I do if I suspect to have contracted COVID -19 symptoms or information about someone who may have been in contact with a patient?

Please urgently call 144, which is the ministry of health helpline, and help will be provided.

Will clinics only be open for emergencies or will normal appointments still take place e.g. babies having scheduled inoculations?

Technically, yes. All clinics and hospitals are open but it will be better to make a phone call beforehand to check their availability and to make an appointment, given the heavy workload that medical practitioners have at the moment in regards coronavirus.

Will families currently outside Rwanda  and returning by international flights after 14th March 26 be put into quarantine upon their return?  If so, where is this likely to be?

Yes. All returning Rwandan citizens will be placed into mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Screening of all arrivals was tightened from when the first case of coronavirus was reported in Rwanda last week.

I am moving house on Saturday  28th so can I do this ... can’t pay rent at two places?

The answer is no. It is very unlikely that shifting and carrying luggage from house to house is permitted during the lockdown.

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