KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwanda announced Wednesday that it will impose a lockdown in the capital Kigali and eight other districts for 10 days beginning July 17 to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting earlier in the day chaired by President Paul Kagame, according to a communique issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Shops will remain closed and movement restricted from July 17-26 except for essential services such as medical, groceries and banking and for personnel offering such services, the statement said.

Rwanda, which had registered an accumulated tally of 50,742 COVID-19 cases and 607 deaths as of Wednesday evening, has said that since June, new cases have quadrupled, with the number of patients being admitted also rising drastically.

This has been blamed on laxity in observing health preventive measures.

African countries are grappling with a third wave of the virus, with over 6 million confirmed cases on the continent as of Wednesday and 153,000 deaths amid low vaccination rates, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO has said that Africa is in the midst of a full-blown third wave, with new cases and deaths soaring every week.

The communique indicated that a curfew from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. will remain in place and all public employees will continue to work from home except for those providing essential services.

However, tourism activities will continue to operate under health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s main airport, Kigali International Airport, will also remain open, with incoming international travelers required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours.

In other parts of the country, businesses will continue to operate, with employees not exceeding 50%.

The government has appealed to the public to stick to health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus such as social distancing, the wearing of face masks and hand hygiene.

Rwanda had closed schools and institutions of higher learning for two weeks effective July 1 in Kigali and eight other districts and banned movements to and from the capital following a recent surge in new infections.

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