KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwanda eased coronavirus restrictions Thursday, reducing night curfew hours and allowing social functions to resume as new infections and deaths have fallen since the peak late last year, according to the government.

According to a statement by the prime minister’s office, night curfew will now start at 12 a.m. local time until 4 a.m., while businesses will close at 11 p.m.

The government also allowed social gatherings to resume for fully vaccinated people as well as concerts, night clubs and live performances which were suspended in December after the country confirmed its first cases of the omicron variant.

Attendants of social functions must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours and events’ organizers were instructed to comply with health guidelines to avoid penalties.

Also suspended is a mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving in the country.

But arriving and departing passengers at Kigali International Airport are required to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure.

Incoming travelers must be subjected to another PRC test upon arrival and a third rapid test on their third day.

The government urged citizens and residents to get fully vaccinated to access public spaces and events.

About 7 million Rwandans have been fully vaccinated for the virus while 8.5 million have received their first doses.

As of Wednesday, Rwanda recorded a cumulative caseload of 129,000 with 1,434 fatalities. In the past seven days, 1,824 new cases were recorded with an infection rate of 2%, according to official data.

Weekly cases in Africa have dropped significantly and deaths dipped for the first time since the peak of a fourth wave that was propelled by the omicron variant, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The decline nudges the continent past its shortest upsurge of coronavirus infections that lasted 56 days.

Newly reported cases fell 20% in the week to Jan.16, while deaths dropped 8%.

The decrease in deaths is still small and further monitoring is needed but if the trend continues the surge in deaths will also be the shortest reported during the pandemic, according to the WHO.

South Africa, where omicron was first sequenced, and which has accounted for the bulk of cases and deaths, has recorded a downward trend in recent weeks.​​​​​​​

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