RWANDA – Rwandese government has committed over Rwf4 billion (approximately US$4 million) to import oxygen plants to increase local production as the country battles a spike in coronavirus infections leading to increased hospitalization.

Pie Harerimana, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Medical Supplies (RMS), says the current oxygen supply is sufficient, the additional oxygen will just act as a buffer incase cases continue rising resulting in shortages.

The plan is that if, for example, a hospital caring for critical coronavirus cases uses 200 oxygen cylinders per day, we at least reserve 300 for that particular hospital,” Harerimana says.

As of September 2020, the country had seven functional public oxygen plants producing approximately 7,000 cylinders (50L) per month.

The total maximum oxygen production capacity of the functional public oxygen plants is estimated at 355 cylinders (50L) per day or approximately 10,800 cylinders per month. 

A partial lockdown was imposed in the country on July 1 following a continued rise in Covid-19 cases with active cases increasing to 15,397 up from 12,194.

Patients in critical condition have increased to 67 as of today up from 37 recorded on July 1. The total number of deaths has also increased to 523 up from 448.

During his national address on Liberation Day celebrated on July 4, President Paul Kagame emphasized the need to adhere to health guidelines to curb spread of the virus.

Some relief is on the way in terms of vaccines to raise the level of protection starting with those most at risk and eventually reaching as many Rwandans as possible,” he said, adding that Rwanda is working to build capabilities to manufacture vaccines and other medications in the country aimed at reducing dependency on imports.

As of July 6, approximately 392,003 people had been given either one or both doses of the vaccine.

Rwanda needs three million doses of vaccine to inoculate 60 percent of its 12.6 million population by June 2022.

Rwanda tightened Covid-19 restrictions to curb rising infections and mitigate the risk of a severe third wave that has hit hard its neighbors, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

The government re-imposed tight restrictions including the suspension of all social gatherings, closing schools and instructing the majority of public officials to work remotely. Curfew time was adjusted from the initial 9pm-4am to 6pm-4am.

Movements between Kigali and other provinces in the country are prohibited except for medical reasons and other essential services.

The pandemic today is worse than ever. We are recording over 800 new cases a day. Younger people are dying, hospitals are crowded and the virus is spreading faster than before. We need to collaborate and comply with the guidelines to bring back some normalcy,” Minister of State in Charge of Primary Health Care, Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga, said on national television on Tuesday.