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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Burundi: are the measures against the coronavirus sufficient?

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Is Burundi really one of the countries without coronavirus? In most of its neighbors, cases have already been declared and the first deaths have been recorded. A few weeks before the elections, both the opposition and civil society are questioning the good faith of the government and asking for more measures to protect the population. 

An anti-corruption NGO says it has documented cases of quarantine violations. The boss of Olucome recalls that the borders of Burundi are porous. He points out that simple temperature tests are used at land borders and asserts that the quarantine measures concerning passengers coming from countries at risk would not be respected. 

“  We have verified this, says Gabriel Rufyiri. With influence and money, there are people who enter without being quarantined and that is very dangerous. So there has to be an awareness so that quarantine is respected by everyone. It is important.  ”  

The Ministry of Health denied these accusations. For his spokesperson, Doctor Jean-Bosco Girukwishaka, the situation is under control. “  No case went beyond our control. 

There are cases that have been authorized by the department to go out. It was quarantine at the hotel and surveillance continued at home for the remaining days.  “

Since the implementation of measures targeting travelers from countries at risk, 135 quarantines have been observed at home and 107 in a hotel. So far, according to the ministry, no passenger has developed symptoms.

Always open borders

The government announced additional measures this weekend to avoid spreading such as suspending flights for one week to Melchior Ndadaye airport in Bujumbura, but freight traffic is maintained, borders remain open and rallies are always allowed. For the spokesperson of the president, it is “  thanks to God  ” and to the fact that “  Burundians travel little  ”. But this situation worries civil society.

The president of Olucome believes that it is difficult to imagine that Burundi could be spared by the crisis. ”  Throughout the region, in Tanzania, in the Congo, in Rwanda, there are already positive cases,” recalls Gabriel Rufyiri. C ow is it that in Burundi, it may not be such cases? Whether it’s private or public hospitals, the problem remains the same. Burundi is unable to cope. And that’s why preventive measures are needed. “

But according to the Ministry of Health, there is no urgency to limit gatherings, close borders or schools before the epidemic is declared. And with regard to the health system, measures have been taken to accommodate possible patients, explains doctor Jean-Bosco Girukwishaka, the spokesperson of the ministry. “  We thought that for each district hospital, we must at least prepare to receive five patients. And for the five national hospitals, there are at least 20 beds for each. And at the Mudubugu center, which specializes in epidemics, there are 24.  ”

On the side of civil society, however, there is concern about the risk of overflowing health structures, given the obsolescence and the reduced number of respirators and resuscitation rooms.

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