• Rwanda’s ex-minister of Health Dr. Diane Gashumba is the first official victim of the virus after she lost her job due to the deadly disease.
  • Dr. Gashumba has been health minister since 2016.
  • Meanwhile, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia and Botswana have recorded suspected cases of Coronavirus.

The deadly Coronavirus, Covid-19 which has so far claimed 2,118 lives with 74,576 confirmed infections in China alone has claimed its first victim in Africa.

Rwanda’s ex-minister of Health Dr. Diane Gashumba is the first official victim of the virus after she lost her job due to the deadly disease.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, sacked the minister on Friday for reportedly lying to him and the country over test kits for checking Covid-19.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaking at the National Leaders’ Retreat. (New times Rwanda)
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaking at the National Leaders’ Retreat. (New times Rwanda)

On Sunday, while speaking at the National Leaders’ Retreat Kagame said Dr. Gashumba lied to him about the availability of kits to test individuals for the deadly Coronavirus.

“One morning, I called one of the leaders and the Prime Minister about the Coronavirus and asked that they examine each one of us ahead of the Leader’s Retreat. I told them to tell the minister of health to ensure this.’‘

“She responded that we have 3,500 kits, and that using 400 of them to test leaders would seriously deplete the number of kits we have. The person I sent told her that the message is an instruction, and that if she has objections she should call me.

“Later we discovered that we do not have the kits as she said. We have kits for only 95 people and not 3,500. I asked her about this and she started giving excuses in a long story. You leaders, you cannot even speak the truth; how do you expect to solve problems?” President Kagame said.

On Friday, the prime minister’s office said it had relieved Gashumba of her duties following ‘a series of habitual gross errors and repeated leadership failures’. Gashumba had been health minister since 2016.

Meanwhile, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia and Botswana have recorded suspected cases of Coronavirus.. All except Botswana have reported that the tests were negative. African airlines have also cancelled scheduled flights to China except for Ethiopian Airlines.

A study by the Lancet medical journal suggested that Egypt, Algeria and South Africa are at high risk of suffering from the deadly coronavirus because of higher levels of travel and trade with China, where the COVID-19 virus first arose.

“African countries have recently strengthened their preparedness to manage importations of COVID-19 cases,” said study author Dr Vittoria Colizza, of France’s Sorbonne university.

Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport

These include temperature screening at ports of entry, recommendations to avoid travel to China and improved health information provided to health professionals and the general public.

The study suggested other countries, among them Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya, would all need support with detecting and handling imported cases of the coronavirus.