Farai Dauramanzi Herald Reporter
Rwanda has temporarily suspended flights from Southern Africa in response to the recently discovered Covid-19 Omicron variant which has been described as ‘the worst one we’ve seen so far.’
The variant was discovered by South African scientists and countries such as the UK and other European countries have since put in place travel restrictions on Southern African countries including Zimbabwe.
In a Communique that was released yesterday, Rwandan Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente said that the new travel measures were meant to protect Rwandans against the variant which has been designated as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“An extraordinary Cabinet meeting was chaired by His Excellency Paul Kagame today (yesterday) to discuss Rwanda’s response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant, which has been designated as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organisation.
“While the variant has not been detected in Rwanda, its effects are potentially dangerous and therefore Rwandans and residents of Rwanda are required to exercise extra vigilance in the practice and enforcement of preventative measures,” said Prime Minister Ngirente.
Some of the measures that have been put in place, with immediate effect, include the suspension of direct flights between Rwanda and Southern Africa.
While all arriving and departing passengers at Kigali International Airport are now required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken 72-hours prior to departure.
“All arriving passengers must quarantine for 24-hours at a designated hotel at their own cost. A Covid-19 PCR test will be taken upon arrival at own cost, and an additional test, covered by the Government of Rwanda, taken on day 7 from the arrival date, at a designated testing site.
“A 7-day quarantine at own cost will be required for passengers travelling from, or those with a recent history of travel in, particularly affected countries. This list will be communicated by the Ministry of Health, following continuous assessment of global health conditions, in collaboration with the relevant international institutions,” added the Rwandan PM’s communique.
Rwanda now requires people attending events/gatherings including conferences, concerts, weddings, festivals or exhibitions to be fully vaccinated and tested.
“As much as possible, gatherings should take place outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces,” concluded Prime Minister Ngirente.
The Omicron variant has not yet been detected in Zimbabwe, but authorities have since put in place tighter measures at ports of entry as the country is now on high alert.