Rwanda: How Nations Around the World Respond to COVID-19

Rwandan drone flies above residential areas in Kigali reminding citizens to wash hands and stay distanced.

Rwandan drone flies above residential areas in Kigali reminding citizens to wash hands and stay distanced.

Rowen Vincent, Writer

Africa has had a generally good response to the coronavirus pandemic- with a low number of cases and a slow but steady reopening starting, here is a look into how Rwanda has achieved a record low number of cases, but by compromising civil liberties.

As of October 19th, Rwanda has only 3,800 total cases, as compared to the United State’s 8.42 million. You might think this is partly because Rwanda’s population is significantly lower than the US’s, but in proportion, Rwanda still has record low numbers. At the expense of the civil liberties of their citizens, Rwanda managed to enforce a lockdown in all major cities with little to no pushback, by using technology companies to build drones with cameras and loudspeakers to enforce lockdowns. In the capital city, Kigali, drones fly above residential neighborhoods, reminding citizens to wear masks and stay 3 meters, (10 feet), apart, and scolding those who don’t. If a citizen is caught outside without a mask or not social distancing, the drone operators call police. 

The lockdown has emphasized the government’s power, and citizens feel that the government has severely oppressed their civil liberties. Over the past 5 years, Rwanda ranked first in lowest corruption, and highly in most extensive civil rights. Some government officials say that this course of action will stain Rwanda’s good reputation, and the world and the United Nations will frown upon the government breach of freedom and civil rights. President Paul Kagame says that no matter the negative impact on the economy and civil rights, “You must see that you are putting your own lives and the lives of others at risk.”

Not only has Rwanda kept low numbers within their own borders, they have managed to keep the disease out of their borders as well. Neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has extremely high cases and poor medical supplies, and not only has Rwanda kept those cases out, they have spent their own time and money to send aid not only to the DRC, but to other nations around the world who are struggling as well. 

Let’s hope that Rwanda and the rest of Africa are able to keep numbers down- and that our own nation and nations around the world can hope for a safe but swift recovery.