When the first coronavirus case in Rwanda was confirmed on March 14, the country wasted no time imposing measures to curb its spread.
As many countries in Africa pondered what to do next, Rwanda imposed a painful but necessary lockdown, banning all movement, gatherings and economic activity.
With a population that generally understood the risks involved, people stayed at home, regularly washed their hands and observed social distancing. The virus found it difficult to breathe under such circumstances and within about two months, the lockdown was partially lifted and curfew relaxed to 9pm.
This was an important victory. But alas! A few weeks down the road, positive cases spiked, forcing the government to impose another lockdown in Rusizi and Rubavu districts, where a significant number of positive Covid-19 cases had been identified.
Then as the international community pondered about the effectiveness of wearing masks in this war, Rwanda made them mandatory and enforced this new measure.
Again, infections dwindled, and over a few weeks, lockdown was lifted in those districts. Tourism resumed, the airport reopened and churches were allowed to conduct services. This was another important victory in Rwanda’s fight against the “invisible enemy”.
But infections have again crept back. The curve has refused to consistently flatten regardless of the commendable measures put in place against Covid-19.
Now authorities warn of a second total lockdown, while the reopening of schools in September, which promised to be a massive step, now looks to be in jeopardy.
Health and government officials have pointed out the biggest challenge to fighting Covid-19: Complacency. Listening to the Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije speak last week, anyone could sense frustration as he explained the surge despite the containment measures.
The Mayor of Kigali City said people in crowded places have abandoned social distancing, regular washing hands and using sanitisers.
Police Spokesperson John Bosco Kabera, also argued that some people are trying to wear security officers down by refusing to abide by the Covid-19 regulations. Many assume that this virus “is no longer a problem” and that they can do as they wish without consequence.
We as a nation have come far in this fight vide the important legwork to ease the pandemic and protect the country against catastrophe.
Complacency is the most dangerous enemy to our excellence and progress. It has sown a false sense of security.
How we respond is the thin line between infections reducing or rising. Of course there has not been a global challenge like Covid-19 in modern history, with devastating effect on every aspect of life.
That said, this virus has taught mankind that survival requires everyone’s input.
Without a vaccine in place yet, the best way to fight this scourge is not rocket science. People must follow these simple rules for gains against Covid-19 to remain intact. Scientists say there is no other way.