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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame receiving the first injection of the Covid-19 vaccine at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo URUGWIRO VILLAGE / AFP

 

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame on Thursday became the first leader in East Africa to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which has been rolled out in the region in recent days, his office announced.

Kagame, 63, and his wife Jeannette, were pictured receiving their jabs on the Rwandan presidency's official Twitter account, which said more than 200,000 people had received the vaccine.

It was not specified which vaccine they received. Rwanda has received some 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech drug and 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford medicine.

Rwanda, a country of 12 million, plans to inoculate 30 percent of its population this year, and 60 percent by the end of 2022.

In February, Rwanda became the first country in East Africa to begin vaccinating against the disease, targeting high-risk groups such as healthcare workers after acquiring around 1,000 doses of the Moderna jab.

The country has carried out more than a million tests and detected almost 20,000 cases, with 271 deaths since the outbreak of the virus.

It imposed some of the strictest anti-coronavirus measures on the continent, including one of Africa's first total shutdowns in March 2020. It put capital Kigali back under a full lockdown in January after a surge in cases.

So far in East Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have begun vaccinating. Ethiopia -- the worst hit in the region -- will start on Saturday. - AFP/The EastAfrican

A refugee receives his COVID-19 vaccination at the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism centre in Rwanda.  Photo Plaisir Muzogeye

 

Gashora, RWANDA – On 10 March, Samira Aman, an Ethiopian refugee living in Rwanda, became one of the first refugees in the country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I feel so privileged,” said Samira, one of more than 300 refugees living at the Emergency Transit Mechanism centre in Gashora, located some 60 kilometres outside the capital Kigali, to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

Samira arrived at the centre two months ago, one of hundreds of refugees that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has helped leave Libya, where weak rule of law and ongoing conflict have placed refugees in danger from human traffickers, smugglers and militia.

“It means a lot to me to be able to be free like this in Rwanda,” Samira said.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Health rolled out its countrywide COVID-19 vaccination campaign about one week ago, beginning with high-risk groups such as health workers, teachers and older people. More than 230,000 people have so far received their first injection.

The Government of Rwanda determined that including refugees and asylum-seekers in its vaccination plans would be the best way to protect the country of 13.2 million, which has seen nearly 20,000 cases of COVID-19, with 271 deaths.

More than 416 refugees who work for health services across the six refugee settlements in the country along with all the adult refugees currently at the transit centre were vaccinated this week.

“COVID-19 has had an effect on everyone in our country, whether they be Rwandans, foreigners, refugees, or asylum-seekers,” said Olivier Kayumba, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Emergency Management. “Vaccines are for everyone, and they are being distributed as they become available.”

UNHCR, which has urged all countries to include forcibly displaced and stateless people in their vaccination programmes, praised the Rwandan government’s efforts. Of the 151 countries currently developing COVID-19 vaccination programmes, 106 have explicitly included refugees and 33 are in the process of doing so.

“Ensuring that refugees are included in the vaccine programme is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ahmed Baba Fall, UNHCR Representative in Rwanda. “Their inclusion in the national vaccination rollout is another mark of the Government of Rwanda’s generosity and humanitarian commitment towards the cause of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

Abdulbasit and Zainab, who left Libya and now live in the centre with their two children, were relieved to get their first shot. 

“As a father of two, getting my first vaccine dose is gratifying. It’s even exciting,” Abdulbasit, 21, said.

Abdelbagi Hussein, a Sudanese refugee, said he thought he would have to wait until he settled in another country to receive his first shot.

“I hadn’t imagined being vaccinated so soon,” he said. “I can’t find a word to say thank you to the Rwandan government. I really thank them very much from the bottom of my heart.” - UNHCR

Tanzania President John Magufuli. Photo KDRTV

 

(KDRTV) – Social media is awash with reports that Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli is admitted to a Kenyan Hospital.

Magufuli who is said to be in a critical condition has not been seen in public for weeks. This has led to many unconfirmed rumors about the President’s state of health.

Tundu Lissu, an opposition figure in Tanzania, questioned why citizens have not been informed about the President’s State of health.

And now, several sources on social media have reported that there is heavy security at the VVIP wing of a prestigious hospital in Nairobi. The security point at the presence of a very big patient.

There are also rumors that in fact, the President who won his second term in October last year, could be battling the dreaded COVID-19.

Magufuli has made international headlines for downplaying the virus, arguing that God has cured his people. He refused to put in measures to contain the virus and even declared Tanzania COVID-19 free in April last year. He has also discouraged his people from taking vaccines.

He has been severally quoted by the media, making fun of Kenya’s COVID-19 containment measures.

However, there is a concern about the number of high-profile deaths witnessed in Tanzania in the past several weeks. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health has also advised citizens to use traditional methods to contain a certain type of cold. - KDRTV

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