When coronavirus pandemic struck last year, the government moved fast, prioritizing the safety of citizens.
Rwanda was among the first countries in Africa to enforce a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Indeed, within a couple of months, it paid off as the number of positive cases dropped significantly.
However a few months down the road, it is now clear that the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over as the virus continues to mutate with the latest valiant - Omicron sending shock waves around the World.
Fortunately, so far the new strain the virus appears to be less deadly though it spreads very quickly. We are also lucky that the new strain has arrived in Rwanda at a time when the government’s vaccination campaign has gained momentum, and now the race is to give booster shots.
Despite the relatively good pace of vaccination, the government is taking no chances. This week the Cabinet reimposed restrictions including mandatory quarantine for all arrivals.
But it is the timing that makes it complicated. As it happens every December, many people were and are looking forward to spending the festive season with their families and friends.
While every effort has to be made to save lives, many are questioning the effectiveness of some of the restrictions in curbing the spread of the virus.
For instance, even when several countries quickly imposed travel bans on travellers from Southern Africa after South Africa discovered the new variant, it has not stopped the virus from spreading.
Many are frustrated that the new restrictions will dampen economic recovery. Businesses are already reporting disruption of supply chains.
Tourists and families abroad are now reconsidering their travel plans. This means the recent gains in getting people back to work are likely to be negatively affected.
It is important that the government continues to accelerate its vaccination campaign to allow the economy to continue on a path of recovery.
Saving lives must remain a priority, but it is crucial that more efforts are also geared towards minimising economic shocks as well as ensuring that many who lost the sources of livelihoods over the last two years get back to work.
This can only happen, if restrictions on movement of goods and services are minimized.
Perhaps more importantly, everyone must understand that it is their responsibility to keep safe from the virus.
When we protect ourselves from the virus by observing the Ministry of Health Covid-19 safety guidelines, it means we will keep the infections down and there will be no need for the government to impose new restrictions to curb the spread. We encourage all those who are eligible for the booster shot, to get it as soon as it becomes available. Stay Well and Stay Safe.