Has Rwanda Resorted to Extreme COVID-19 Prevention Tactics?

Claims have been making the rounds on social media alleging that Rwandans found flouting COVID-19 rules on wearing masks and violating the curfew were forced to attend all-night lectures as punishment.

The claims, also reported in sections of the media (like news and entertainment site TUKO, for instance), are accompanied by photos such as the ones above and below.

Background

Rwanda has so far recorded 2140 positive cases and 7 deaths – numbers that show the country is scoring high in the fight to quell the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, alluded to the same during a regular COVID-19 briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

As of May 7, a total of 1400 people had reportedly been arrested in the city of Kigali alone, for violating a curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Verification

Africa News corroborates the claim by TUKO and other sources in a report, which includes video evidence of the punishment, attributed to AFP.

The report reads in part:

Extreme measures to combat Covid-19, in Rwanda, with authorities detaining people who violate the 9 pm curfew and mask-wearing protocols in stadiums for hours – where they are forbidden to move all night. They are then subjected to incessant lectures on virus-prevention and consequently ordered to self-confinement upon their departure at dawn.

It also says:

According to official figures, around 70,000 people have passed through detention centers or stadiums since mid-July. The press is regularly invited to film and interview detainees and many have been used as examples in the local media as a cautionary tale to the Rwandan population.

Radio France Internationale (RFI), also reported on the strict measures Rwanda has taken to curb the spread of COVID-19, showing an image of people standing on markings meant to ensure social distancing at a bus station in Kigali.

Verdict

Rwanda has indeed put strict measures and punishments in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.