COVID-19: Rwanda, DR Congo make mask wearing mandatory

Local companies to make affordable masks, says Rwandan official

Ekip  | 19.04.2020 - Update : 19.04.2020
COVID-19: Rwanda, DR Congo make mask wearing mandatory

James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda - Wearing face masks in public will soon be mandatory, Rwanda’s health minister said Saturday.

Daniel Ngamije said the latest guidelines require everyone to wear a mask in public, and at home during the lockdown and thereafter.

“From next Monday local companies will start making masks to help supply affordable quantities on the market. Wearing masks will be effective in preventing spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Rwanda reached 144 after another patient was diagnosed with the virus.

Rwanda extended its COVID-19 lockdown Friday until April 30.

Unnecessary movement and visits outside the home is prohibited except for essential services such as health care, food or banking, and for those performing such services.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the governor of the capital of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, said mandatory wearing of masks will begin April 20.

“The wearing of masks is now mandatory throughout the capital,” Ngobila told reporters.

The army and police will enforce the measure, as well as compliance with social distancing and hygiene measures issued by authorities, he said.

"These measures are aimed at preserving the gains of two weeks of containment and strengthening prevention,” he said.

As of Saturday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the DR Congo increased from 267 to 327.

The government announced its first case March 10, and the virus spread to four provinces.

President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of emergency March 24, announcing the closure of all borders to non-essential traffic and a ban on all trips between the capital and 25 provinces.

Kinshasa with more than 11 million residents remains the epicenter of the pandemic. The city announced a lockdown March 26 in a bid to contain the spread .

The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe now the hardest-hit areas in the world.

More than 2.3 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll above 160,700 and close to 600,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Africa cases crossed 20,000 Saturday with more than 1,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

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