by James Gashumba, Lyu Tianran
KIGALI, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Preventive measures against COVID-19 put in place in Rwanda will help protect its residents from being infected by travelers, Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Primary Healthcare Tharcisse Mpunga told Xinhua recently.
There are robust systems beginning with the airports to curb infection by imported cases, which include screening, testing and requirements on wearing face masks and keeping social distancing, Mpunga said in a telephone interview earlier this week on the country's preparation for reopening airports for commercial flight operations on Aug. 1, four months after the central African country suspended commercial flights to stem COVID-19 spread in the country.
People travelling to Rwanda are required to test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before travelling and those who test positive will not be allowed to visit Rwanda, said the state minister, noting that arrivals will receive another test.
"We believe all those measures will help the country to prevent infection from travelers," he said.
According to him, the decision to reopen airports was made because of the concrete measures taken by countries to contain the spread of the virus as well as measures put in place by the Rwandan aviation.
The Rwandan government is building the capacity of testing, treating and tracing contacts at provincial levels so that health personnel in the capital city Kigali could focus on the work at the national level, he said.
"The capacity is changing over time. We are trying to purchase (testing) kits and build the health system according to our future projections," he added.
According to health officials, Rwanda currently can test 4,000 to 5,000 samples per day, increasing from the initial 300 to 400.
Rwanda has seven sites that can test samples and the capacity is going to increase, said Mpunga, adding that the country has ordered over 200,000 testing kits to increase its testing capacity.
Although Rwanda is seeing new cases brought by free movements of people across the country, the outbreak in the country is "under control", as it is able to detect new infections, trace and test contacts, and isolate the infected, he said.
Currently, Rwanda has community transmissions as people move to and from different places within the country, according to him.
The situations along its borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), in Eastern Province and police detention centers pose a "big challenge," but the country is trying to deal with them, he revealed.
However, he said transmissions in Rusizi district bordering DR Congo have reduced "drastically" due to robust systems put in place, which led to the lifting of the partial lockdown there.
Last week's cabinet decisions allowed movements within the district in western Rwanda, but still prohibited travel to and from the district. Enditem