Rwanda confirms first case of coronavirus

Coronavirus pandemic arrives in East Africa as Kenya and Rwanda report first cases

An Indian citizen has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Rwanda, six days after he entered the country, and is being treated at a health facility in isolation, Rwanda’s health ministry said on Saturday.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Rwanda’s ministry of health said the patient had no symptoms on arrival into the country on 8 March. He later reported to a health facility on 13 March and received the positive test.

“The tracing of all contacts has been conducted for further management,” the statement said.

Rwanda becomes the second country in East Africa to report a positive case of the coronavirus. The first confirmed case was in Kenya, after a Kenyan citizen who had recently returned home to Nairobi from the United States tested positive on 12 March. She is being treated at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya’s ministry of health said.

The Kenya government has “traced all the contacts of the patient since her arrival” in the country, the ministry said. It added that “there is no need for alarm” and that measures were being taken to ensure the disease does not spread in Kenya.

Uganda, which neighbours both countries, is yet to report a positive case of the coronavirus. On Saturday, the ministry of health said it had received an alert of a suspected case in downtown Kampala, which turned out to be an individual in self-quarantine.

The person had recently returned from one of the countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases. A surveillance team from the ministry “established that this lady had no signs and symptoms of Covid-19 but recommended that she completes the mandatory 14-days of self-quarantine,” the ministry said.

As the Kenya and Rwanda cases show, the most likely entry route of the coronavirus is from travellers arriving from a country with high rates of transmission.

As part of its “enhanced measures to prevent importation” of the coronavirus into Uganda, the government has classified 16 countries whose residents should consider postponing non-essential travel to Uganda.

The countries include Italy, San Marino, Iran, South Korea, France, China, Germany, Spain, Belgium, USA, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Austria, and Malaysia.

“Any traveller from these countries, including Ugandan nationals, will be subjected to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival to Uganda even if they do not exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19,” a ministry of health statement released on 11 March said.

As of Saturday, 19 African countries have confirmed coronavirus cases. The highest number of positive cases are in Egypt and South Africa. In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases rose to 38 on Saturday from 24 a day earlier, according to the country’s health minister.