Rwanda makes COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for incoming, departing passengers
The Government of Rwanda has permitted flights to and from Southern Africa to resume and imposed mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for arriving and departing passengers.
The new measures have been put in place following the confirmation of COVID-19 Omicron variant identified through genomic sequencing of samples collected from travelers and their contacts.
The new directives released by the Ministry of Health read that all arriving travelers must present COVID-19 negative test results.
Only RT-PCR tests taken within 72 hours are allowed for arriving passengers.
“All travelers arriving in Rwanda must have a negative Covid-19 certificate. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction [RT-PCR] performed within 72 hours prior to departure (meaning travelers must be tested and get results within 3 days of their first flight).
Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Tests [RDTs], are not accepted. COVID-19 Test is not mandatory for accompanied children under 5 years. Incoming travelers eligible [aged 12 years and above] for Covid-19 vaccine are encouraged to be fully vaccinated before their travel,” reads part of the statement.
As per new directives, all arriving passengers must quarantine for 3 days at a designated hotel at their own cost. A Covid-19 PCR test will be taken upon arrival.
Testing on Day 3 will be both Antigen Rapid Test and PCR Test. People will be released from quarantine on Day 3 upon rapid test results as per the national guidelines while Rapid test will be free of charge.
Subsidized COVID-19 testing cost
The Government of Rwanda has announced that RT-PCR test at the airport will cost US$60 including US50 and US$10 for specific logistics instead of current cost of Rwf 57,200 for each test..
“In order to facilitate Rwandan citizens to test regularly for Covid-19 and to know their status, including Rwandans returning home for end of year holidays, the Government of Rwanda will subsidize the cost of Covid-19 tests,” adds the statement.
For the mandatory RT-PCR test taken on Day 7, Rwandan citizens will pay Rwf 30,000 or US$30 instead of current cost of Rwf 47,200 for each test.
Among others, all arriving travelers are required to pay the cost of both mandatory RT-PCR tests of arrival and of Day 3 of quarantine on arrivals at Kigali International Airport but sample collection for day 3 tests will be conducted at the designated hotel. PCR Test of Day 7 will be done from designated testing sites at own cost.
All travelers arriving or transiting in Rwanda must complete the passenger locator form and upload the Covid-19 PCR test certificate before heading to the airport.
All travelers transiting for more than 12 hours through Rwanda will be screened upon entry and take a second Covid-19 PCR test on arrival. Sample collection will be conducted at the airport upon arrival and passenger will wait for the results at the designated transit hotel. The Covid-19 Test Results for transiting passengers for more than 12 hours will be fast-tracked so that passengers can get the results before their next flight.
All transiting travelers who are not leaving the airport for less than 12 hours will be screened upon entry and not required to take a second test. However, the latter is not applicable for transiting passengers by land border. In that case, passengers will be tested using RT-PCR Test and waiting for the results from the designated transit hotels before proceeding.
Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination certificate for departing passengers
The new directives also read that all travelers departing from Rwanda must test negative for COVID-19. The only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 72 hours before departure.
The PCR test must be performed by the Rwanda Biomedical Center/National Reference Laboratory, Provincial or District Hospitals. Other tests, such as Rapid Diagnostics Tests (RDTs), are not accepted while COVID-19 Test is not mandatory for accompanied children under 5 years.
Travelers have been encouraged to book and pay for their tests at least 2 days prior to departure.
Rwandans travelers eligible (aged 12 years and above) for Covid-19 vaccine departing from Rwanda must also be fully vaccinated while travelers are not allowed to go to the airport without negative COVID-19 PCR test results.
Latest statistics form the Ministry of Health show that over 116,000 people have caught COVID-19 while 1362 succumbed to the virus since it emerged in Rwanda in March 2020.
Citizens are reminded of the critical importance of adhering to instituted health guidelines namely; washing hands, proper wearing of face masks and keeping social distancing among others.