It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon here in Kigali. I am chilling at Blackstone Lounge found on the second floor of KBC building. The place looks different today. There are fewer tables than it is usually the case. Something must have happened to the rest of the tables while I was away. The remaining tables are placed meters apart. This scattering of furniture is not the only thing that looks different today. There is one more thing; I happen to be the only customer.
A second customer is walking in. Wait a minute, he is not a customer. He is an official from the Ministry of Health. He is here to inspect the business and ensure the regulations are strictly observed.
One floor beneath where I am seated, Café Camellia is closed until further notice. Across the street, Kigali Height’s Java and Riders are deserted. There are fewer cars along the usually busy KN 5 Road separating the two buildings. Even automobiles seem to be practicing social distancing.
A middle-aged man, donning Puma gear, is running on those beautiful roadside pavements. A caucasian woman and her two kids are riding bicycles around the KBC round about. Farther ahead, the Kigali Convention Center and Radisson Blu hotel look abandoned.
At the entrance, I was instructed by the gloves-wearing security personnel to sanitize my hands thoroughly. When I set foot on the Blackstone’s verandah, I sanitized my hands again, following directives from management.
The lounge is super clean. Warm water is flowing out of the bathroom’s taps and each hand towel is used only once. It is encouraging to see Rwandans taking precautionary measures seriously.
Earlier today, The New Times (Rwanda’s leading daily newspaper) reported that 1,200 samples have been tested so far, with 11 cases being confirmed. Tested individuals are those who developed symptoms and those whose recent encounters put them at risk. While the testing exercise is being conducted, it will probably take several more weeks before we get an idea of how hard the pandemic has hit us.
There was no new case yesterday. It’s still early but I haven’t heard of any new case today so far. What I have heard is that the 11 patients are in a stable condition. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, let’s stay home as much as we can. Let’s keep washing our hands frequently and avoiding large gatherings. Let’s keep covering our noses and mouths with disposable tissue or flexed elbows when coughing or sneezing. Each one of us should do his/her part. We are a team. Together, we shall defeat the virus and life will eventually get back to normal.