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Since December 2019, the world has observed an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China and recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. As of March 31, 2020, more than 783, 360 cases have been reported globally, resulting in more than 37,203 deaths. In Rwanda, 75 cases have been confirmed by the same date and no death has been reported.

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

In Rwanda, despite the presence of the virus in the country, many measures have been taken to avoid its spread, encouraging people to social distance as much as possible, and frequently wash their hands with clean water and soap or hand sanitizer. Schools, places of worship, and other potential crowded places have been closed and people are required to work from home. Boarders have been temporarily closed as well, and movements within the country have been limited to vital activities and travels.

Different channels in the country, starting from the Ministry of health, provide up-to-date and relevant information on how to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Symptoms and prevention

According to WHO, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea or difficulty in breathing. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with clean water and soap or alcohol-based hand rub
  • Maintain at least 1 meter distance between yourself and someone who is coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your mouth with a bent elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

For people in Rwanda, call 114 for assistance if you have any or all of the symptoms listed above.

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.

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