News from Rwanda

News from Rwanda

Hi, my name is Jean de Dieu Mihigo and I live in Gisenyi, Rwanda. Gisenyi, Rubavu district is in the north-west of Rwanda, on the shores of Lake Kivu and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. I want to share with you how Coronavirus has impacted us here in Rwanda.

In some ways we were already in preparation for the pandemic as the authorities were already establishing measures to prevent an Ebola pandemic, that was killing many people in neighbouring DRC.

The first case of a person with COVID – 19 in Rwanda was declared by the Ministry of Health on March 14th, 2020. The Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, declared a nationwide 14-day lockdown, which started on 21st March but due to increasing cases of infections this was extended for another 14 days.

The measures taken by the government included social distancing, washing hands with soap or using hand sanitizer, avoiding shaking hands etc. The second extension of the lockdown expired on 29th March but by the end of April we were still waiting on new measures to be announced by the government. On 27th April the ministry of health advised that there were 207 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 93 healed and 114 still sick but with no recorded deaths.

During the period of the lock down, the government provided food and sanitary materials for workers. This has been a positive action to a big number of people, especially in Kigali City (our capital), however, there are large numbers who are not yet receiving these donations and are suffering from hunger. Although the measures taken by the government are helping avoid the spread of the virus the levels of poverty are increasing across the country.

I am married with 3 sons, the eldest was at university, the middle boy was at secondary school and the youngest in primary school.  As all of the schools and universities are closed, they are now at home. My wife was head of housekeeping at a large international hotel in town but at present she is not working, and we don’t know if she will return to work. Her salary was the main income for the family. I used to sell eggs, mainly to the Congolese, but most of my customers have returned to DRC so life is becoming very hard. This is the case for many in Rwanda.

We are suffering! We are approaching the end of our food stores and have reduced our meals to one a day. We worry about how things will be after the lockdown, how we will pay our school fees, electricity, water, rent and other bills.

We are looking to the government to help with essential services and other activities that will help people to get some income or to provide some loans.

As this pandemic is not just a problem in one country, we all need to stand together to eradicate COVID-19 and sustain one another.

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