Coronavirus: The incredible story of how Rwanda is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis

Check out Rwanda's radical idea to get its people to wash their hands before boarding a public transport.

(AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

As Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray considers the possibility of shutting down train and bus services in Mumbai, Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda may hold some answers on how to keep a city running and safe at the same time. Until recently, Rwanda had managed to stay COVID-19-free but as of the time of filing this report, Rwanda has confirmed seven coronavirus cases. Significantly, the first confirmed COVID-19 case was a Mumbai man who travelled to Kiagli for work.

In Mumbai’s neighbouring city, Pune, restaurants have voluntarily offered to down their shutters for three days. While Thackeray pleased to people to avoid all non-essential travel even within the Mumbai, it is difficult to shut a city that doesn’t sleep.

Rwanda had managed to keep COVID-19 at bay by taking several preventing steps. And since washing hands is crucial to the process, the government has made sure it provided its citizens everything it could. It is thus that Kigali, the capital, has mandated that everyone wash their hands before they get into public transport. Of course, no public transport facility is designed for a situation such as this and so Kigali has a novel solution to the problem: they are providing portable wash basins!

Rwanda has come a long way from the 1994 genocide to being one of the fastest growing economies in Central Africa. Women occupy a majority of seats in the parliament; at 64 per cent that’s more than any other country on the planet. And on the last Saturday of every month, Rwandans are mandated by law to get together to clean up streets and other public spaces. Plastic bags have been banned for more than ten years in Rwanda and the country also has one of the lowest crime rates in Africa.

Surely, we can take a page from their book?