Rwanda introduces vaccine mandates

Friday October 15 2021
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Health workers administer Covid-19 vaccines in Rwanda. The country expects 488,370 Pfizer vaccine doses from America to boost its Covid-19 vaccination plan. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By Ange Iliza

Travellers to Rwanda will no longer undergo mandatory quarantine in hotels on arrival from Thursday, October 14, as the country moves towards fully reopening its economy.

Passengers will now only be required to present a negative PCR test on arrival.

This follows the acceleration of Covid-19 vaccinations with over 10 percent of Rwanda's 11 million population now fully vaccinated and a significant drop in coronavirus infections over the last three months. 

The new measures were announced on Wednesday, following a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame.

Curfew hours were also reviewed from midnight to 4pm, giving businesses an extra hour to remain open until 11pm from Thursday.

Mandatory vaccination


However, Rwanda will now compel proof of vaccination in the capital Kigali for public gatherings.

Social events, universities and some offices will not be accessible to unvaccinated people. Learning institutions are already applying the new measures with school staff, including teachers, required to be fully inoculated since the start of the new academic year on Monday, October 10.

“Teachers have been given priority for vaccination since March. By the time schools reopen, no teacher or eligible school staff will be allowed to teach without vaccination. As we get more doses, we will expand vaccination scope to younger students,” Dr Tharcisse Mpunga, Minister of State in charge of Primary Healthcare, told The EastAfrican in an interview earlier.

More than 90 percent of Rwanda's adult population in Kigali has received the first Covid-19 shot. The Health ministry has expanded the vaccination drive to other districts, targeting people above the age of 30 with over one million doses.

Since October 10, when the campaign started, over 500,000 people have received their first jabs.

Rwanda targets to vaccinate four million people by the end of this year, and 7.8 million by June 2022. As of Wednesday, 2,738,816 people have been inoculated.

Booster shots

The government has allowed the gradual opening of bars, massage parlours, saunas, swimming pools, festivities and recreational events with adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. Meetings, conferences, and other public and social gatherings are also allowed with a limited number of attendees and negative Covid-19 tests.

Dr Mpunga revealed that Rwanda is studying antibodies of vaccinated people and how effective the vaccine has been to conclude whether a booster shot will be needed.

“We are studying how the vaccine has affected people’s immune systems after receiving two doses and whether they will need booster shots. It will depend on what we will find. The current priority is giving the first two doses to more people,” he said.

The current infection rate stands at 1.1 percent, with 98,925 recorded cases and 1,318 deaths since the virus was first reported in Rwanda.