Rwanda is planning an upgrade of its testing capacity to enable the country to trace the new COVID-19 variants in the country.
The Covid-19 variants which were first identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom are believed to be more transmissible than the original Covid-19 virus, raising concern that the new strains may be more deadly.
On national television, Rwanda’s Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije said: “We haven’t yet tested and identified a Covid-19 variant…we are still working on this capability, and soon, we will be having it in place.”
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the country decided to increase the number of tests done daily.
On Saturday, Rwanda resumed mass testing of residents, running a three-day exercise.
On Monday, 336 new positive cases out of the 7,867 tests done were reported in the country, bringing the total number of infections to 12,975. Three deaths and 261 recoveries were also recorded in the country on the same day, bringing total recoveries to 8,420 recoveries and death toll to 174. As of Monday, active positive cases stood at 4,453.
Vulnerable groups, including the elderly, were among those tergetted in the mass testing.
The country’s Ministry of Health set a target of 20,000 people on a cell and village level in the capital Kigali.
The aim of the mass testing is to determining how many infections are in Kigali and linking patients to their residential areas for better management.
“On the first day, among 4,500 tests taken, 200 of them were positive and above 70 years of age. We are confident that once we know who is infected and where they are, treatment will be more effective,” Dr Ngamije said.
Rwandan last week re-instated a 15 days lockdown in Kigali following a spike in Covid-19 infections and deaths. Movement remains restricted nationwide.
Recently, the country imported 18,000 doses of the oral drug -Favipiravir which was used to treat influenza in Japan in 2014, that has now been approved for Covid-19 treatment by some countries.
Seven deaths were recorded in Rwanda on Saturday, the highest mortality rate so far in a day though the government is now optimistic that the new treatment will curb deaths.
Rwanda is also expecting the first one million doses of Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccine after acquiring the required refrigeration units. At least 500,000 people are expected to be the first beneficiaries. Frontline workers, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions are to be among these beneficiaries.