Coronavirus: the new disease COVID-19 explained for Rwanda

Saturday 1st August, Rwanda reopened Kigali airport. All passagers arriving to and departing from Rwanda must get tested for Covid-19 120h before departure. Travelers arriving to Rwanda must also be tested at arrival, before receiving their test results they must stay 24h in one of the designated hotels. Rwanda has partially lifted lockdown measures, nevertheless the Ministry of Health is asking all residents to continue observing all instructions particularly by washing hands regularly, wearing a mask in public, maintaining physical distance from people, limiting group gatherings, respecting the curfew (10pm-5am) and reporting any symptoms by calling the toll-free number 114. Find more info below.

 BY RWANDA RED CROSS   l                                                        UPDATED DAILY 

 

Total cases

5017

Total deaths

34

Total Recovered

4803

Cases per date

Data sources: WHO, IFRC and MOH and local media reports. 

Latest statement by Ministry of Health

 
 

Frequently asked questions

Is the new coronavirus (COVID-19) very contagious? Is it easy to get the virus?


It is easier to catch the virus when being in direct contact with a person infected or with objects and surfaces that the person was surrounded by many of the people who get the disease are caregivers and family members caring for a sick person without personal protective equipment. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth. These dropplets land on hands, objects and surfaces. Therefore governement of Rwanda has declared a confinement for every residents. If you need to go outside your home it is necessary to keep a social distance of 1 meter with everyone you meet.




Can I get the new coronavirus (COVID-19) by talking to someone or sitting next to them?


If you keep a social distancing of 1 meter you are very unlikely to catch the virus by talking to people, walking in the street, sitting next to someone, shopping in the market or another crowded place. Being nearby a person generally doesn't spread the virus. But if you had direct contact with a sick person your chance of contracting the virus are higher.




Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?


The disease can be treated and many people have already recovered from it. While there is no specific medicine recommended, those infected with the virus should receive care to relief and treat symptoms. Those with severe illness should get care in a hospital.




Is there a vaccine?


There is no vaccin yet because it is a new virus. It takes time to develop a new vaccine that is efficient and safe. Researchers are working on it.




Does having a COVID-19 patient in a hospital in Rwanda put all people at risk?


Hospitals are prepared to care for patients with infectious diseases. Having a patient with coronavirus (COVID-19) in a hospital means they will receive the right treatment to help them get healthy and prevent the disease from spreading.




Should we avoid people coming from China or Europe?


We should use the same protective measures with any person (no matter nationality, origin etc) who may be sick and have symptoms similar to a cold (runny nose, fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath). These include washing hands often with water and soap or alcohol-based hand gel to wash the germs off hands; keeping a distance from anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or is sick - at least 1 metre (3 feet) - and encouraging them to go to a nearby healthcare center.




Should we avoid Chinese food or products?


COVID-19 is not spread by eating Chinese food. It is safe to eat any fully cooked food in a hygienic and clean environment.




How can I keep my child safe?


It is important to teach your children to wash their hands regulary with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should also teach them to cough/sneeze into their bent elbow or into a tissue and put the tissue directly into the garbage and wash their hands right after. Keep windows open at home and on public transport so the air circulates and carries germs away.




Do I need a mask to protect myself against COVID-19?


No, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself from the coronavirus (COVID-19) is to simply wash your hands well and often and avoid close contact with people who are ill.

If you're healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person who might have COVID-19.

If you are sneezing or coughing, you should wear a mask so that you don't spread the virus through coughing or sneezing around other people or onto surfaces.




I don't have access to soap. What can I do?


If you don’t have soap available you can still use cold ashes, as we recommend in our FA manuals.




How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?


Wash your hands frequently using soap and water. If soap is not available, alcohol based hand gel may be used to wash away germs. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth or nose with a tissue or your bent elbow. Try not to sneeze and cough into your hands because then you will spread the virus with your hands. Throw the tissue into a bin. If you cough/sneeze into your hand, don't touch anything and immediately was your hands with soap and water.
Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or is sick. Keep at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance and encourage them to go to a nearby healthcare center. Avoid big gatherings of people. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. Stay home when you are sick. Go to the doctor if you have a fever, cough or feel that it is difficult to breath. This is the best way to look after yourself and stop the infection spreading to your family and others. Make sure to first call the doctor and let them know your symptoms so you don't infect other people. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with chlorine- or alcohol-containing cleaning solutions. It is not yet known if and how long the virus lasts on surfaces, but a disinfectant with 70% alcohol can kill it.




Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?


Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.




Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?


The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.




How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?


The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.




How long does the virus survive on surfaces?


It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.




Is there anything I should not do?


The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.




Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?


Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.





New! Wearing washable cloth masks

Every residents of Rwanda must wear a mask in public places. Please follow the instructions to wear it the most efficient way.
Wearing a mask does not relieve you from following preventive measures such as social distancing (1m50) and regular handwashing.

 

What is COVID-19?

The new coronavirus and its disease (COVID-19) is caused by a new strain of coronavirus first found in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from a cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

There are still some things we don't know about the virus, but there are many actions we can take to prevent transmission of the virus.

 

Incubation period

 
 

Transmission

A healthy person can get the virus through close contact with an infected person.

"Close contact" means physically touching them, touching items they have used or coughed/sneezed on, or spending a lot of time within 1 meter of them while they are sick.

The virus spreads through direct contact with 'drops' of saliva. These fluids come out of the nose or mouth. For example:

  • When an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets can enter the eyes, nose or mouth of another person
     

  • If an infected person sneezes and coughs into their hands and touches another person or a surface
     

  • When a person touches surfaces and objects that are contaminated by those droplets
     

  • It may also be possible for the virus to spread through contact with feces of someone who has COVID-19, but this is less common
     

 

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 normally begin within 2-14 days after exposure, ususally around 5 days.For most people, coronavirus is mild and similar to a cold (runny nose, fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath).

It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.

 

If the disease becomes severe, organ failure can occur and this can be life threatening.

The disease can lead to death, but this is rare.

 

Treatment

There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Treating the symptoms of COVID-19 can help people to recover.

Go to the doctor if you have a fever, cough or feel that it is difficult to breath. This is the best way to look after yourself and stop the infection spreading to your family and others. Make sure to first call the toll-free number 114 and let them know your symptoms so you don't infect other people.

 

Prevention

  1. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water. If soap is not available, alcohol based hand gel or cold ashes may be used to wash away germs.
     

  2. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth or nose with a tissue or your bent elbow. Try not to sneeze and cough into your hands because then you will spread the virus with your hands. Throw the tissue into a bin. If you cough/sneeze into your hand, don't touch anything and immediately was your hands with soap and water.
     

  3. Avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or is sick. Keep at least 1 (3 feet) distance and encourage them to go to a nearby healthcare center.
     

  4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.
     

  5. Go to the doctor if you have a fever, cough or feel that it is difficult to breath. This is the best way to look after yourself and stop the infection spreading to your family and others. Make sure to first call the toll-free number 114 and let them know your symptoms so you don't infect other people.
     

  6. Stay home when you are sick.
     

  7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with chlorine- or alcohol-containing cleaning solutions. It is not yet known if and how long the virus lasts on surfaces, but a disinfectant with 70% alcohol can kill it.

 

Psychological Coping During Disease Outbreak

In the face of the recent emergence of pneumonia associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us would feel worrisome, especially as we have experienced EBOLA or SARS back in 2003 and do not wish to relive the pain and fear caused by the outbreak.


It is understandable for people to experience the fear and anxiety in face of uncertainty; they can help us cope with the situation in short term. Yet, if the fear and anxiety turn to a long-term condition or become very intense, they would not help people, but rather lower one’s ability to adapt and cope with the crisis. Meanwhile, we may also experience other common post-critical incident reactions such as low mood, insomnia, anger etc.


It is therefore important for us to adjust emotionally in a way that is healthy to both mind and body.


Below are some tips for us during these times:

DO:

  • Fact-check any news you receive from different places against more trustworthy sources;
     

  • Educate yourself and others with accurate information such as proper hand washing and cleaning practices, clinics and hospitals to seek help from when needed, and places to buy cleaning materials;
     

  • Maintain your daily routine as much as possible: you can continue to engage in leisure or meaningful activities even at home, like talking to or spending time with family and pets, reading books, cooking, and doing relaxation exercises;
     

  • Take time to acknowledge your own, normal feelings of fear and helplessness;
     

  • Call your friends and family to keep in touch and show your care for each other.

DON'T:

  • Share information and news that can cause fear and confusion to yourself and others without fact-checking against trustworthy sources;
     

  • Blindly follow actions and recommendations you receive without fact-checking, and these may lead to further confusion and unhelpful or irrational behaviors such as excessive purchases of food and medical supplies, and holding stigma against people with sickness;
     

  • Spend too much time looking for information / news, as excessive reading would only create more fear and anxiety than you already hold;
     

  • Keep thoughts and feelings to yourself without sharing your concerns with loved ones.

What is Rwanda Red Cross doing?

With the support of our partners (Belgian Red Cross, ICRC, IFRC, Japanese Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, Spanish Red Cross and the Government of Rwanda) our nationwide COVID-19 related activities for the communities of Rwanda are:

Raising awareness and risk communication via mobile radio, TV shows, radio shows and social media

Distribution of water, hygiene and sanitation facilities

Supporting at least 8875 vulnerable families in 14 districts with food supplies

Follow us on social media for live updates

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