Rwanda keeping coronavirus at bay with campaign of public handwashing

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda is guarding against the spread of coronavirus by flooding its capital with portable sinks for hand-washing at bus stops, restaurants, banks and shops across the capital Kigali.

Rwanda has not recorded any cases of the virus so far but neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed its first case on Tuesday, making it eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa hit by the epidemic.

At the biggest car park in Kigali, passengers must wash their hands before they board buses - adopting the hygiene mantra advocated by health authorities across the world to tackle the outbreak.

“Authorities advised us to buy these hands washing machines and ask customers to use them. We are doing this to fight the coronavirus outbreak,” said Jimmy Blaise Bugingo, an inspection officer at Alpha Express, a bus company that travels to Congo.

Banks, shops, restaurants as well as bars, have all been equipped with portable wash sinks and customers seem keen to use them.

“I just washed my hands at the bank and I now I just did again,” said Jean Pierre Habimana 48-year-old father of four as he was boarding a bus.

South Africa now has the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa, with 13. Ivory Coast confirmed its first case on Wednesday. Cases have also been recorded in Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, Burkina Faso and Congo.

Writing by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Alison Williams