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COVID-19 pandemic in Rwanda reaches "critical stage" with spike in new cases: health minister

(Xinhua)    10:12, December 14, 2020

KIGALI, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Rwandan Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije on Sunday warned the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a "critical stage" in the country, with an ongoing spike in new cases and increase in deaths.

Some people without underlying diseases have also been killed by the virus while COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units have increased recently, said Ngamije during a live talk show about the status of the pandemic at public broadcaster, Rwanda Television.

He attributed the surge to complacency by citizens and persistent violation of anti-pandemic preventive measures, alerting that the growing complacency could lead to more infections as the festive season is approaching.

"Since the lifting of the lockdown and opening up of the economy, we have noticed a high level of complacency among the population and increasing numbers of people ignoring rules on social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. This has led to a rise in the number of COVID-19 infections that we are currently experiencing," he said.

He appealed to all Rwandans to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive measures, wearing a face mask when in public and avoiding unnecessary movement to crowded places and social gatherings, as the country is waiting for the vaccine, which he said could arrive in about three months.

The central African nation might be among the first countries in Africa to receive the vaccine, according to him.

"Once the vaccine arrives, we will start the vaccination exercise with the most vulnerable people. The first category will cover those with underlying medical conditions and those at a higher risk of contracting the virus including frontline workers," he said.

The government is going to toughen its measures against the pandemic because people have relaxed a lot, which is very dangerous for preventing the spread of the virus, Minister of Local Government Anastase Shyaka said.

Measures like social distancing, proper wearing of face masks and regular washing of hands were not followed in crowded market places, weddings, funerals, and shops, he said. All bars shall remain closed under the preventive measures.

"Business people are putting profits above people's lives. We are going to put much effort in awareness campaigns among all people including leaders and the general public to prevent themselves from COVID-19 infection because it seems they are thinking that the virus has been defeated," said Shyaka.

Businesses that will be caught violating COVID-19 preventive measures will be closed on top of fines, Minister of Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye told the nation.

"We are appealing to traders to observe anti-COVID-19 preventive measures and not to put profit over safety. Inspections will continue in all businesses including markets, shops, hotels and restaurants among others across the country to ensure anti-pandemic measures are observed," she said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)

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