18th Umushyikirano, Big Meetings Called off due to COVID-19 Fears
The year 2020 will end with all big events and meetings suspended as the country enters a crucial phase to curb the spread of the New Coronavirus.
A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Monday resolved that all national events and meetings be put on hold as Rwanda looks to contain an upsurge of COVID-19, after the country registered a spike in new cases in the last 3 days, with a total of 319 cases.
“Given the current trend of COVID-19, the Cabinet has postponed all national events, including Umushyikirano. This year His Excellency the President will deliver the State of the Nation address in an interactive format with officials, citizens and media on Monday, December 21, 2020,” a cabinet decision reads.
The 18th National Umushyikirano Council Dialogue Council was due for Wednesday, December 16th, but on Monday, December 14, reports indicated that it had been postponed.
This year’s Umushyikirano was expected to be attended by 500 participants at Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), instead of the usual 2000 or so who attend the annual national dialogue. Major changes in this year’s edition, in line with the prevention of COVID-19, had been revealed before cancellation.
Following an increase in COVID-19 cases, the Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, on Sunday warned that the situation could escalate if people continue to be reluctant, pointing out that the virus has in recent weeks evolved, affecting more people, including young ones, while the number of patients in critical condition has increased tremendously.
All preparations were well underway, and 500 people who had to attend the Kigali Convention Center had just begun to receive a day-to-day Coronavirus test.
To date, 6747 people have been infected with the Coronavirus since it arrived in the country in the last nine months. Of these, more than 700 have been infected in the past two months. The death toll has also risen sharply to 56, with six deaths in the past two weeks.
Rwandans have been urged to stay vigilant, with curfew time restored to 9pm to 4am. The curfew time will be reduced further to 8pm from December 22. Several gatherings and festivities had been lined up for the festive season but with the new restrictions, all are likely to be cancelled.
Meetings are not expected to exceed 30 percent of the capacity of the venue capacity while organisers are expected to abide by COVID-19 measures, including testing attendees. Social gatherings and weddings have all be called off.
A young person asks a question at a previous edition of Umushyikirano