Despite the fight against spread of Covid-19 registering gains that allowed more economic activities to reopen, December holidays will still not attract excitements due to concerns over potential fourth wave.
Unlike last year when the country was battling a second wave that rendered all celebrations low key, the decline in Covid-19 infections and death rates since September, alongside increased vaccination coverage has offered hope for return to festivities.
Already the entertainment sector is warming up for December with plans of concerts and outdoor celebrations.
“There are concerts planned which we shall communicate in due course. We only wish that there won’t be curfew, and that’s a possibility only if we keep observing standards operating procedures in light of current trends in infection number,” Remmy Rubega, a local events manager told Rwanda Today.
“There is optimism as adherence to protocols improve because people want to go out.”
The government allowed bars, outdoor events, concerts, festivals, exhibitions and games to reopen for vaccinated and tested people with curfew hours set at midnight.
Health officials last week announced the closure of covid-19 treatment facilities across the country following weeks of constant decline in virus infections, with over two million people fully vaccinated and almost four million people who received their first jab.
Details indicate that there were only two admitted Covid-19 patients as all the others are asymptomatic under the home care treatment. The positivity rate has remained under 1 per cent This, however, may not offer hope for curfew free end-of-year holiday celebrations as there are concerns over potential infection resurgence.
Those monitoring the pandemic say the country may not be out of the woods yet as cold weather-linked infections likely to be imported from Europe and other countries experiencing waves of infections constitute potential risk during the approaching festive season.
“That is how such pandemics work. In cold seasons, people seek shelter indoors where the virus thrives. This adds to other factors like parties and festivities,” said Dr Menelas Nkeshimana, Team Lead for Covid-19 Case Management at Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
The concerns are also pegged on the fact that the country, despite registering steadily increasing numbers of vaccinated people, still hasn’t reached the required threshold of vaccinated population.
Dr Nkeshimana, however, allayed fears of the severity of another wave in case it occurs on account of ongoing vaccination.
“Vaccination is key in this situation because even if another wave came, we might have a rise in infections but very few deaths or people in critical conditions. Besides, we have drawn lessons from previous waves in terms of managing containing the virus,” Dr. Nkeshimana explained.
Dr Nkeshimana cautions that as the economy reopens and social gatherings resume, people have to avoid congested areas at all cost, and hold ceremonies in open spaces instead.
“This will save us a lockdown, in addition to the vaccine.”