Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye has promised that his government will take the ongoing coronavirus pandemic seriously unlike his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza and take necessary immediate steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country, reported Reuters.
The 52-year-old Ndayishimiye won the presidential election in May defeating six opposition candidates. He had been due to take office in August, but Nkurunziza’s sudden death last month brought the succession forward.
Nkurunziza’s government had been criticized of not taking the pandemic seriously. He held large political campaign rallies ahead of the presidential election in May and expressed the belief that divine protection would largely protect the people of the country from the pandemic. He even expelled the national lead of the World Health Organization.
On Tuesday, Ndayishimiye said the government will soon post new guidelines, which the population will be required to comply with strictly, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“Everyone has to take measures to stop being infected or infecting others,” the president said.
The Burundi president said mass screening and testing will be conducted wherever clusters of cases are suspected, and that soap prices and water bills will be reduced to enable citizens wash their hands and curb the spread of the virus.
“We urge everyone who sees symptoms of the disease to rush for a test so he can get treatments,” the president said.
He warned anyone who shows symptoms of Covid-19 but refuses to get tested will be considered a sorcerer.
According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Burundi has 170 confirmed cases of the virus. the respiratory disease that can be caused by the new coronavirus.
Last week, Human Rights Watch said health workers in Burundi have warned that the coronavirus is more serious there than what the government is thinking it is.