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Rwanda Stops Domestic, Foreign Travel in Coronavirus Fight

Eugene Amuri, a vendor at the Kimironko market, wears a handmade "kitenge" cloth mask as he attempts to protect against COVID-19, in Kigali, Rwanda, March 17, 2020.

Rwanda has become the first nation in Africa to be placed on lockdown for at least 14 days in an effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement issued by the office of the prime minister said “observing the global trend of the COVID-19 pandemic, and considering the experiences of other countries, there is a clear need to take additional steps to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread further in Rwanda.”

Beginning Saturday, just before midnight, unnecessary movement and visits outside the home by the country’s 12 million citizens were not permitted, except for essential services such as health care, food shopping or banking, and for the personnel performing such services.

The statement added that all employees, public and private, would be working from home, except for those providing essential services.

Rwanda has also closed its borders, except for shipments of goods and cargo and returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents, who will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantining at designated locations.

Additionally, travel between cities and districts of the country is not permitted, except for medical reasons or essential services. All bars are closed.

As of early Sunday, Rwanda had 17 reported positive cases of COVID-19.