BUJUMBURA, 12 January 2021 – The government of Burundi has launched a campaign to test as many citizens as possible for COVID-19 in the hope that early detection will stem its spread.

Burundi Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana

Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana – Photo Burundi Presidency

“We call on the population to voluntarily turn up for the mass testing campaign,” Burundi’s health minister, Thaddee Ndikumana, told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Bujumbura.

The campaign comes days after Ndikumana confirmed that more than 100 COVID-19 cases had been recorded in the country in less than a week.

Contact tracing and the testing of at least 5,300 people allowed health officials in the country to confirmed the over 100 cases.

As of Tuesday, Burundi has recorded 1,019 cases of the new coronavirus, with two fatalities.

The deaths of two former Burundian presidents – Pierre Nkuruziza, who died on 6 June 2020 in Bujumbura and Pierre Buyoya, who died in Brussels, Belgium, on 17 December 2020 – have been blamed on the virus.

Hospitals across the country say they have discharged 773 people who have fully recovered from health complications associated to the new coronavirus.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities ordered all night clubs and karaoke places closed.

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye

Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye on Twitter

Bars and drinking places can stay open until 8pm and all those in them or participating in public gatherings must respect COVID-19 prevention guidelines, said Pierre Nkurikiuye, a spokesperson for Burundi’s Home Affairs Ministry.

Burundi’s land and maritime borders were closed Monday to all but cargo transport.

Airports remain open, but all arriving passengers must consent to and foot the $100 bill for a COVID-19 test at the airport.

Passengers must also book online and check into pre-designated hotels upon arrival and stay there until they test negative on the sixth day of their quarantine.

Last week, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye promised to severaly punish any officials or individuals who flount COVID-19 restriction measures.

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