At around 6 am, two ladies get out of their hostel, with big packed bags on their backs, and each had a small bag in her hand. They were coming out of one of UR-Huye campus’s hostel gates, probably heading home.
It was on Sunday, a day after Rwanda confirmed its first case of COVID 19. Government of Rwanda had taken drastic preventive measures including closure of schools, churches, and all public gatherings.
Given that Huye town is considered capital of Southern Province, Kaminuza Star gives you a picture of how it responded to changes.
The ladies, now standing along the road, called motorcycles, to take them to the bus station.
In the road, leading up to downtown. One could see two or three people here and there. Some noise in bars and hotels.
In downtown, near the market, there were few people, many of them security guards, cleaners and some three or four people jogging. The Sunday was almost similar to others, because Huye is not that lively on Sundays, especially in the morning.
At around 6.30, on the street behind Chez Venant bakery at the center of the town, it’s usually noisy, there were about four or five bars, and lodges and a handful of hair salons.
On the road leading to the district office, there were more people than those near the market. Two bicycle riders were seen talking about how you can get infected with the coronavirus if you were not careful and how washing hands is a major preventive way.
Students go home
In the main area of station, there were few buses. A lady who was sitting on one of the shades told Kaminuza Star that she was travelling to Nyamagabe and buses were “unusually scarce”.
” Maybe it’s because students have to go home today, and many buses will be transporting them,” she said.
Schools, primary, secondary and universities, were closed for two weeks. The decision will affect 3.2 million students. And, according to the Ministry of Education, schools in the Southern Province were scheduled to send their students home. Some students went to the bus station; others were taken from their schools.
There were buses in the compound of Group Scolaire Officiel de Butare, and students had taken queues.
In another TVET school, in a 100 meters or so, students were outside, wearing uniform, probably waiting for buses to take them to their respective destinations. A group of seven to ten students from another school were also on the road.
Sunday without church services
There was no church service on Sunday, and more so, during Lent, across the country. But this was more visible in Huye, probably due to its big religious community. At 8 am, there was not a person passing in the Cathedral area. Eglise Sainte Therese, also Catholic, was closed. The Anglican church in the town empty.
In UR Huye campus, in normal Sundays, the place is lively, with different Pentecostal groups of students worshiping. On this particular Sunday, it was very quiet. For the Catholic church, liturgy was delivered on the national TV.
In the afternoon, there were more movements in the town than had been in morning. In the market, traders had opened quite as usual, but many wore masks.
On the same Sunday evening, news came in that the Ministry had confirmed four new cases. The public was encouraged to be more careful and practice the preventives measures including washing hands regularly and avoiding handshakes.