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The New Times – Rwanda
Ever since Rwanda recorded its first case of COVID-19 a little over a week ago, some have used social media to spread misinformation and panic – a tendency with potentially far-reaching negative consequences.
As the country does everything possible to avert further spread of the virus it is critically important that all citizens and residents of Rwanda follow public health guidelines for their safety and that of their loved ones and the country at large.
It is incredibly callous for anyone to deliberately spread content that’s designed to cause panic and mislead the public at a time when everyone else the world over is working to stop this pandemic.
Some inadvertently help circulate heavily edited clips, footage and messages designed to distort the truth around the novel coronavirus, and this has at times undermined the bona fide communications from legitimate authorities and sources. This has created unnecessary anxiety, panic buying, and breach of restrictions on movement.
To avoid feeding rumours and misconceptions just don’t share anything whose sources are suspicious and is likely to cause panic and fear.
The Government has been open with regular updates from the days preceding COVID-19 outbreak in the country and this has remained the case since the confirmation of the first positive case.
Indeed, not a single day passes without a government institution, especially the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda Biomedical Centre, and Rwanda National Police, releasing a statement on the latest situation and the role of the public in this fight.
Coronavirus is a global pandemic but current efforts against the virus cannot succeed if you and I fail to play our role. All we need to do is to follow public health guidelines.
In a bid to contain the virus, the Government announced a partial lockdown on Saturday, urging people to stay home and to observe other precautionary measures such as social distancing, regular handwashing, and self-isolating and contacting authorities and medical professionals in case one presents symptoms.
Unfortunately, some people have not been cooperative or vigilant enough. For instance, some used all means possible to leave cities and head to rural areas unnecessarily, contrary to instructions. Others gathered for prayers in homes. These are dangerous acts that could hurt efforts to curb COVID-19 spread.
Thankfully, most people obliged and this will come in handy. These should help bring about behavioural change among those who are yet to adjust accordingly.
Restrictions on people’s movements come with a myriad of challenges but let’s all commit to pay this price for a short time for the greater good. Our own experience with other struggles has shown that whenever we’ve come together and done the needful we’ve triumphed together sooner rather than later. We must remain united, responsible and resilient in the face of this global pandemic.
Please stay home, practice social distancing, avoid spreading rumours and wash hands more frequently.