By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - The World Bank approved $14.25 million in immediate funding Thursday to support Rwanda’s response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The funds are being provided under a new operation, the Rwanda COVID-19 Emergency Response project, the country’s finance ministry said in a statement.
“The financial support from the World Bank is a boost to national efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. The government is working around the clock to flatten the COVID-19 curve and ensure that life gets back to normal,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana.
The ministry said the funding will support Rwanda’s efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus while strengthening national systems for public health preparedness.
It will also support financing critical interventions such as the prompt diagnosis of suspected coronavirus cases, contact tracing to minimize the risk of transmission, risk assessments to identify hot spot areas and the screening of travelers at ports of entry.
Yasser El-Gammal, the World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda, noted that the East African country has been hard hit by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which runs the risk of reversing some of its hard-won socio-economic and health achievements.
The Rwanda COVID-19 Emergency Response project focuses on harnessing digital solutions and data analytical tools that will improve the management of the COVID-19 response, according to the World Bank.
The project hopes to explore several innovations including digital maps that allow to visualize the spread of the disease in real time, mobile apps for sending health messages and telemedicine capability to allow for suspected cases to be assessed without the need for physical movements by patients, it said.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund approved the disbursement of $109.4 million, which it said is to meet Rwanda’s urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.
Rwanda’s Health Ministry said Thursday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country had reached 113, with seven cured.
The government earlier this month extended its two-week COVID-19 lockdown to April 19 in order to further contain the virus outbreak.