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Burundi’s COVID-19 positivity rate at 1.9% as concerns mounts

For the past weeks, Burundi’s coronavirus infections stabled to 1.9% nationwide while some centres infections reached 5% the highest recorded Last week. The number of infections grew as experts warned over rapid spread as the COVID-19 vaccine sets to be the only way out.

A passenger arrived at the Melchior Ndadaye International Airport gets COVID-19 test/PhotoFile

Weekly infections in Burundi stood at 1.9% countrywide last week according to health senior officials. Bujumbura mayorship is the most affected as it recorded 5% of infections in the same week.

With a 1.9% infections rate, the country is less affected by the pandemic. Burundi’s world health organization (WHO) categorizes the country under ”community spread of a low frequency” countries which combines states where less than 80% of positive cases are connected to a confirmed infection.

The news came after the wold bank proposed to ship the vaccine into the country. However, the country refused to take up any responsibility for side effects stirred by the vaccine. in a press conference, Dr. Thaddée Ndikumana said at the end of July that “the vaccine is welcome” but no other form of documentation will be signed.

Burundi first diagnosed the first case in March 2020. According to Burundi’s WHO, infections drastically soared after which the government launched a mass screening in June 2020 after President Evariste Ndayishimiye vowed to fight the pandemic contrary to his predecessor late Pierre Nkurunziza who took lightly the pandemic.

So far, Burundi has been accused of opaque management of COVID-19 which led to the expulsion of WHO representative in 2020 along with four other bureau officials as he was declared person no grata in Burundi.

The ministry of public health is delighted by the infection rate. Yet, he calls on all Burundians to continue observing social distance, sanitize as much they can, and for those who present symptoms go directly to a nearby hospital for treatment.

“People have been reluctant to observe measures to prevent coronavirus. Once the infections decrease, people are tempted to relax and forget about the pandemic”, said the Ministry of public health Dr. Thaddée Ndikumana on Thursday.

In a bid to contain the virus, a series of efforts have been implemented since its outbreak in March 2020. Borders were shut. Bars and karaokes were banned as well as big events. However, no drastic measures were taken such as a curfew. Senior officials opted for sensitizing the population.

However, health experts are concerned with the evolutions of the pandemic which could erase the 12 million population in case Burundi fails to contain it. Prior to Burundi’s health systems weakness, a surge in infections would lead to chaos.

Specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Dr. Theodore Niyongabo said that one possible way to protect the population is “to get vaccinate”.

His comments came after Burundi recorded three COVID-19 variants last month. As reported by the Ministry of public health, the infected were fully taken charge and were discharged from hospital facilities as well.

“When dealing with the new variants, it is not physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands that will stop these waves. If we want to protect ourselves against this pandemic in the long term, vaccination is the solution”, said Dr. Theodore Niyongabo.

Economic experts on their part converge on various initiatives that could boost the economy of the country since the latter was strained by the pandemic as its economy appeared to be still in transition from the 2015 crisis when it was hit by the COVID-19 when it erupted. 

According to a report by the African Development Bank (ADF), in 2020, the Burundian economy entered a recession due to the pandemic. The industry saw its production fall by 4.5% compared to 2019 and services fell by 1.8%.

They [experts] call upon the government to consider health experts’ recommendations as to resume economic activities including export and import lowered by the outbreak.

“We appeal to Burundi’s government to endorse vaccination campaigns and deliver official messages to citizens encouraging them to be vaccinated. This along with associated measures would allow the economy to recover as quickly as possible and Burundians find the freedom to travel to foreign countries”, said Gabriel Rufyiri, president of OLUCOME (Corruption and Economic Abuses Watchdog).

This followed a spike of infections in three centre including Bujumbura (5%), and an increase of infection countrywide in Kiremba (Ngozi province in northern Burundi), and Muyinga(on the border with Tanzania.

So far, most infections are recorded in Bujumbura and areas bordering the country including Kobero (Muyinga province) and Gatumba (Bujumbura). The two localities host screening points to facilitate countering positive cases. Last month, the ministry reported that two positive cases were returned to Tanzania for treatment.

Besides, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, the government of Burundi suspended three major events this summer that could have featured Kidum Burundian artist from Kenya, Chameleon from Uganda, and Israel Mbonyi from Rwanda.

Currently, according to WHO data, over 10,000 positive cases have been detected while the country registers 10 fatalities.

Espoir Iradukunda
Espoir Iradukunda
Data Investigative Journalist


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