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Rwanda Launches Largest Treatment Centre Amid Covid-19 Surge

The treatment centre which cost about $10 million to build, is housed within the newly launched Nyarugenge District Hospital in Kigali City.

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Rwanda has recently launched its largest COVID-19 treatment centre for patients infected with the coronavirus, which is expected to reduce pressures on overwhelmed hospitals across the country.

The newly launched facility has an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with the capacity to admit 140 patients. It comes at a time when the country is desperately battling a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed 115 lives, with 2,313 active cases as at January 8.

The treatment centre which cost about $10 million to build, is housed within the newly launched Nyarugenge District Hospital in Kigali City.

“The facility is expected to improve Covid-19 case management. It offers the highest standard of oxygen therapy and its ICU capacity allows to admit 136 patients,” Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said on Twitter. 

Before the new center was launched, the country had a total of 114 intensive care unit beds, 90 fixed ventilators and 130 portable ventilators prioritised for Covid-19 patients, according to the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

Over 50 patients who are in need oxygen and intensive care are now slated for transfer to the largest COVID-19 treatment centre from other treatment centres in the capital, Kigali.

It is anticipated that there may be a third wave of the virus infection before the vaccine is accessible to much of the population.

“Covid-19 has some factors in common with the previous respiratory pandemics such the 1918 Spanish Flu. It takes three waves for us to be able to manage it. Since the vaccine will not take effect immediately everywhere at the same time, we might have another wave of infections this year,” Dr Menelas Nkeshimana told The EastAfrican.

Dr Nkeshimana, a member of Rwanda Joint Task Force for Covid-19, added that Rwanda faces the risk of a surge in infections because of its young and mobile population who are super spreaders as the case is in every other country.

In mid-December, up to 42 private clinics were authorised to begin Covid-19 tests using the rapid antigen tests. This was done to ease access to testing services and reduce the pressure on public testing facilities.

As of Friday, Rwanda had recorded 9,368 total coronavirus infections and 6,940 recoveries, out of 760,897 tests done since the first case of the virus was reported in the country in March last year.

Rwanda expects to have vaccinated 20 per cent of the country’s population by March 2021.

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East Africa News

Ethiopian Forces Detain Minors in Crackdown On TPLF Rebels

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An Ethiopian human rights commission group has found minors in the custody of Ethiopian forces in Western Gambella.

The minors, some found to be as young as 11 were arrested alongside members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The Tigrayans have been held since November, and the state still has not started investigations into their culpability.

“The Commission was alarmed to find two boys aged 11 and 12 and a girl aged 14 detained since mid-December 2020 on suspicion of being members of OLF Shane,” it said, following the arrest of Tigrayans and a breakaway group from the Oromo Liberation Front.

There is renewed tension in the country as the parliamentary elections, through which a Prime Minister is chosen, draws closer.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party faces pressure from the country in the face of the Tigrayan crisis.

Read: More Ethiopian Refugees Flee Into Sudan’s Blue Nile State

Ethiopia runs a federal system of government with at least 10 regions having their parties including the TPLF, run by Tigrayans and the Oromo Liberation Front for the people of Oromo.

Abiy benefited from a coalition of various parties in 2018 when they kicked out the TPLF which had ruled for 27 years.

Opposition parties have revealed harassment of their members by the national government, with human rights activists asking for a look into Ethiopia’s current situation.

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Somalia Intercepts Smuggled Weapons and Ammunition Days Before Elections

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Somalia’s Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunication says investigators have begun investigations into origin of the sophisticated weapons and ammunition which it intercepted while being smuggled into the country.

The Ministry said the Somali and foreign entities had attempted to illegally import high calibre weapons and ammunition into the country without the knowledge and permission of the government.

“The federal government of Somali has a robust system in the supply chain of weapons and ammunition from point of procurement to post distribution.

“It is these existing frameworks in place that has enabled the government to respond timely and block the deliveries,’’ the ministry said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

However, the ministry did not identify the entities and the quantity of weapons that were intercepted or provide proof to back up the report either.

The ministry said the government takes violations of territorial sovereignty and integrity as well as any actions that can have potential destabilising effects very seriously.

“The government is investigating the origin and motives of the weapons and ammunition it has blocked intended for Somalia,’’ it said.

The United Nations imposed a blanket arms embargo on Somalia shortly after the nation plunged into civil war 25 years ago.

The statement came hours after fighting erupted in the southern town of Beled Hawo between Jubaland security forces and government forces as both sides sought to wrestle control of the strategic town which is a key entry of the Gedo region.

However, the government said its forces managed to repulse the group of militia and managed to recover illegally imported deadly weapons after also flushing out Jubaland security forces.

There are casualties on both sides even though the local authorities have not established the number involved.

The Somali government and Jubaland forces previously fought over the control of the town in March 2020.

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11 Die, 14 Injured in Somalia-Kenya Border Fighting

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No fewer than 11 people have died and 14 others injured in heavy fighting that broke out overnight in a Somali town near the Kenyan border.

The incident in Bulo-Hawo town – between Somali forces and those from the state of Jubbaland, northern Somalia – continued till Monday morning.

Somalia’s Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunication in a statement accused Kenya-funded rebels of crossing into the town and attacking federal forces amid rising tensions between the two East Africa neighbours.

Kenya has not yet responded to Somalia’s statement.

Jubbaland vice president, Mohamud Sayid Adan, disclosed that Jubbaland forces stationed outside the town were attacked by what he called forces recently deployed to the region by the government in the capital, Mogadishu.

Both Jubbaland and the federal government have claimed victory.

Somali’s information ministry said federal forces are in control of the town with no fewer than 100 of the suspected rebels surrendering to Somali forces.

Information Minister, Osman Abokor Dubbe, reported that five children were killed and their mother wounded when a mortar round landed on their house.

“Ordinary militias don’t have mortars and missiles,” the minister said. “This is proof that Kenya is arming those rebels.”

Some Somali soldiers had also been wounded but none killed.

Residents say people have begun fleeing the area.

The federal government and Jubbaland’s administration have been engaged in a dispute over the process for elections and control of some regions bordering Kenya.

Somalia last month severed diplomatic relations with Kenya after accusing Nairobi of “blatant interference” in Jubbaland affairs. Kenya denied the accusation.

The regional body, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), recently sent a fact-finding mission to the border but the findings have not been made public.

Kenyan Internal Security Minister Fred Matiangi described Monday’s fighting as “internal to Somalia and has nothing to do with us (Kenya).

“We are not involved in it and none of our forces has crossed the border to go to Somalia,” he told journalists during a joint press conference with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on renewing security agreements.

Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that it had raised its concern about the fighting with the African Union continental body.

“Kenya’s primary concern is that the renewed fighting engenders large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and increasingly generates large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to Kenya, therefore aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya,” the statement said.

Somalia’s election will hold on February 8, 2021.

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