Language version

CORONA VIRUS

Rwanda Demands For Scientific Clarification On UK’s Travel Ban

Advertisement

Published

on

The government of Rwanda has demanded for clarifications on the motivations behind the recent arbitrary decision of the UK government to ban non-UK citizens who have been in or transited through Rwanda.

The UK government announced, on January 28, that direct flights from Rwanda have been banned, together with a few other countries.

“This decision was taken due to the risk of new variants rather than any reflection on Rwanda‘s strong handling to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic,” the British High Commission in Rwanda said.

The High Commission’s statement came after the Welwyn Hatfield MP and Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced that the United Arab Emirates, Burundi, and Rwanda all had been added to the UK’s red list.

On Saturday evening, January 30, Rwanda issued a statement saying that it has “taken note of the UK Government announcement…”

“Considering the list of countries in the region affected and not affected by the ban, the sparse information communicated to Rwanda does not stand up to scientific scrutiny,” the Rwandan government insisted.

Rwanda’s overall response to COVID-19 including testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment, and reporting has been consistent, transparent, and corroborated by third-party entities.

Rwanda is also one of the few countries that require a PCR COVID-19 test for all departing passengers and all those in transit.

Notably, the government said that “Rwanda did not join in the widespread bans on travellers from the UK in December 2020 over the variant discovered in parts of the UK.”

Meanwhile, the ban has attracted sharp criticism from the public particularly via social media, accusing the UK government of politicizing COVID-19 “and eroding trust in its commitment to science-based decision-making. No variants have been detected in Rwanda, in contrast to the UK itself,” said Mauro De Lorenzo in a tweet, adding that Grant Shapps’ statements were “Highly irresponsible.”

The British High Commission told Taarifa on Friday evening that the decision was based on data collected from “various sources”.

When pressed to share some of the data that was based on to come to the banning conclusion, the High Commission’s Spokesperson, Bhavik Shah, did not share any source.

Also, when asked if the data used to inform the UK’s decision had come from Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) and Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, could not confirm nor decline.

Context, and diplomatic reporting 

Taarifa consulted how foreign missions report on pandemics and risky areas or regions.

Apparently, classification as a risk area is the result of a joint analysis and decision-making process by the home Ministry of Health, the Foreign Office, and the Ministry of the Interior or Local Government.

The classification as a risk area is based on a two-step assessment. This might vary on a country, but subtly.

Initially, it is determined in which countries or regions there were more than 50 new
infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. And in this case, Rwanda hasn’t reached that level. In fact, Rwanda’s total positive cases are 0.017% in the past year.

In a second step, qualitative and other criteria are used to determine whether or not
countries and regions that might nominally fall below the above threshold could nonetheless still present an increased risk of infection.

The same applies for countries or regions that might nominally fall above this threshold but do not nonetheless present an increased risk.

Since the 44th calendar week, the maps of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), broken down by region, have been taken into account for the EU Member States (for the UK, refer to BREXIT, but the format still counts).

The map contains data on the 14-day notification rate, testing rate, and test positivity.

As part of the second step, the Foreign Office and, where relevant, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior or Local Government, provide qualitative reports based on reporting by the local diplomatic representations, which also covers measures taken to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Key factors in this assessment are above all the numbers of infection and the type of outbreak (local or wide-spread), testing capacities and the number of tests carried out per capita as well as the measures taken to contain the spread of infection (hygiene regulations, contact tracing, etc.).

Similarly, this also takes into account individual countries where reliable information may not be readily available.

UK’s context on the ban

Rwanda is not on any other country’s red list due to its stance on COVID-19 and tough measures to contain the virus. In fact, Rwanda has been conducting genetic sequencing. The results are uploaded on gisaid.org, a transparent international platform for sharing virus data.

Rwanda named among top 10 countries that responded best to Covid-19 outbreak

Taarifa insisted that the High Commission in Kigali should explain thus, with scientific evidence for suspecting a new COVID-19 variant beyond just a statement announcing the ban.

The Spokesperson, Bhavik Shah, failed to explain. He pleaded that the decision was beyond his pay grade, but he confirmed that the High Commission was responsible for providing reports and advising the UK on Rwanda.

Indeed foreign missions produce reports, which include scientific data, assessment and their views. For most countries, these reports are public.

For example, Germany. Their report is shared publicly on the website of Robert Koch Institute

https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html

Meanwhile, the UK is on the list of riskiest countries in the world at the moment and currently considered as an area of a variant of concern. High incidence areas are risk areas with particularly high numbers of cases.

An electronic sign displays information as the British government imposes a stricter tiered set of restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London. (Image: Reuters)

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CORONA VIRUS

Tanzania Receives Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From China

Published

on

By

Tanzania on Friday received 1,065,600 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China under COVAX, boosting the east African nation’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19.

Speaking shortly after receiving the vaccines, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dorothy Gwajima expressed gratitude for the vaccines, saying the donation will help accelerate Tanzania’s vaccination campaign launched by President Samia Suluhu Hassan on July 28.

COVAX is a global program aimed at providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

She said a total of 760,962 citizens have been vaccinated on Tanzania’s mainland and 10,800 citizens have received the jabs in Zanzibar as of October 7.

Xu Chen, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania, said the donated vaccines will bolster Tanzania’s fight against the pandemic.

He said the Chinese government and Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation are working very closely to facilitate the donation of two consignments totaling about 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China.

The hand-over ceremony at Julius Nyerere International Airport in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam was attended by high-ranking government officials and representatives from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund.

Continue Reading

CORONA VIRUS

Museveni To Be Retested After Aides Test Positive For COVID-19

Published

on

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will be retested for COVID-19 after three of his aides tested positive for the virus, his physician said Friday.

Museveni’s consultant physician, Joseph Okiria, tweeted that the aides had tested positive on their return with the President from trips to the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia.

“Following President Museveni’s recent return from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Addis Ababa, three presidential aides have tested positive for COVID-19.

This despite best efforts and measures including daily PCR testing and full vaccination,” Okiria said. He said the staff who tested positive had been isolated and were receiving care.

“The President and other members of the team tested negative and will be retested,” Okiria added. “This highlights the continued difficulty of safe travel during the pandemic and the importance of testing all inbound and outbound travelers,” the physician added.

The number of daily infections in the east African country continued to drop, with less than 100 cases being registered, according to the health ministry.

The Ugandan government recently resolved that incoming and outbound travelers would be tested for COVID-19.

As of Friday, 124,437 total infections had been registered with 3,172 deaths and 96,237 recoveries since the outbreak started in March 2020, according to the ministry of health.

Continue Reading

CORONA VIRUS

Slovakia Donates 280,000 Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccines To Rwanda

Published

on

Rwanda has received 280,000 doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine donated by Slovakia. 

The delivery of the vaccines is coordinated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM), which Rwanda applied to in order to access the vaccines. 

Responding to calls for vaccine justice and solidarity, Slovakia joins the EU in Kigali to donate the vaccines and commends Rwanda’s efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Slovak Ambassador, Katarína Žuffa Leligdonová in Kenya said that, “Slovakia has heard loud and clear the calls for vaccine justice. Covid pandemics can only be successfully overcome if we join forces together. That is why Slovakia has joined in the EU family in Kigali and provide 280 000 Astra Zenecca vaccines to help Rwandan government and people to tackle this pandemics.”

The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda, Ambassador Nicola Bellomo said; “The EU is proud to have assisted the arrival of the vaccines through the EUCPM. The EU stands in solidarity with Rwanda, both multilaterally by supporting the COVAX facility, but also bilaterally by mobilising vaccines donated by our Member States through the EUCPM, and by working with Rwanda to create the framework necessary to attract foreign investment into vaccines manufacturing in the country”.

The EU finances 75% of the transport costs of the assistance sent through the EUPCM.

Through this Mechanism, the EU helps coordinate and finance the delivery of vaccines, medical and protective equipment and other material which are donated by EU Member states across Europe and the world, to countries that seek assistance.

Slovakia remains a staunch supporter of international solidarity through multilateralism and the COVAX facility.

Two weeks ago, Slovak President Ms. Zuzana Čaputová emphasised in her speech at the United Nations General Assembly that solidarity should be a binding principle, not an option. Slovakia will continue supporting all efforts to help making vaccines accessible to all.

Continue Reading

Trending