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COVID19

Here Is What Rwanda Does When Citizens Violate Covid-19 Rules

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African President PAUL KAGAME

As the COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Africa, Rwanda’s government is dishing out an interesting punishment for the residents who break social distancing restrictions. According to reports, the police sends them for an all-night lecture about the dangers of the pandemic. This comes as the country battles with rising cases of the pandemic. Government figures show that nearly 70,000 people have allegedly ignored mandatory face masks and curfew restrictions.

Big speakers blare the public health messages every evening in the stadiums across the country. Meanwhile, the spectators sit at a distance of at least three meters. The all-night classes implore the rule-breakers to be the government’s ambassador in the fight against the COVID-19. Not only that, but the armed troops watch over the all-night classes. Normally, sessions end by dawn. Those who have attended their classes can go home—albeit with strong restrictions to self-quarantine. 

AFP reported that an individual, Jado son Nizeyimana, who was caught by police for wearing the facemask incorrectly, told the news agency that “From now on, I’ll wear it wherever I am.” This shows that the government’s strategy might be working. The authorities sometimes invite the media to show the images to the public as a message to those ignoring instructions. Others were given a choice to pay a fine of 26 dollars or face public admonishment.

The effectiveness of Rwanda’s unique approach

As of now, the country has recorded a total of 3,742 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 16 fatalities. However, its COVID-19 mass testing policy puts it in much better condition than rest of the Africa. Meanwhile, police maintained that a tough approach plays a part in curbing the spread of the pandemic. John Bosco Kabera, the police spokesperson said,

“We’re still finding many people breaking the rules, all the time. It’s as if some are doing it intentionally to frustrate police. I want to tell you it will not happen.”

Rwanda’s response to the outbreak has been effective and quick. In March, it imposed Africa’s first lockdown. The government ordered all schools, non-essential businesses, and public transport to shut down. However, rights activists have accused soldiers and police of using the pandemic restrictions as a cover for abuses against the public and critics.

Many bloggers and media journalists critical of Rwanda’s effort to curb the spread have faced serious charges and imprisonment. In one instance, the journalists were investigating cases of rape by soldiers during the curfew period. Also, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New-York based group has called for an independent investigation into the allegation of rape and suppression during Rwanda’s lockdown period.

COVID-19 in Africa and the rest of the world

According to John Hopkins University data, global coronavirus cases have surged to 25 million. With more than 840,000 fatalities. Meanwhile, Africa accounts for nearly 5 percent of global infections. It has a total of 1.25 million confirmed infections with nearly 240,000 fatalities. South Africa remains the worst-affected country in the region. Health authorities have recorded 625,056 infections with more than 14,000 deaths. Next in the queue is Egypt with a total of 98,727 confirmed cases and 5,399 deaths so far. Nigeria remains at the third with over 54,000 positive infections.

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