Covid-19 patients who violate home-based care rules face criminal charges

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 13 January, 2021 13:03:03PM
Covid-19 patients who violate home-based care rules face criminal charges

The government will slap criminal charges on anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 but continues to mingle freely with the public thereby put the masses at a high risk of contracting the virus.

The revelation was made on Tuesday in a panel discussion on the national broadcaster that brought together the Director-General of the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana and the Police Spokesman CP John Bosco Kabera to shed light on the current status of the fight against the virus spread. 

The background 

Nsanzimana explained that currently, of the slightly more than 2,800 patients, at least 90 per cent of them are placed on home-based care. 

“We have a system that we use to communicate with them on a daily basis where we ask them some questions, request them to take some measurements etc. We started this on September 1 last year and it was working smoothly,” he explained.

The patients were also fitted with trackers that help authorities keep an eye on them to ensure that they do not leave their homes and spread the virus within their communities.

However, Nsanzimana explained that since private clinics and some health centres were authorised to conduct tests, controlling the number of patients in the community has increasingly become challenging.

Some people choose to keep their Covid-19 positive status secret so that they can go on with their daily lives.

He expressed his frustrations over the patients’ failure to grasp the gravity of how deadly their actions are to the rest of the community.

“Even if you tested positive but are showing no symptoms, mingling with other people in the community means that you are putting them at risk. It should be your responsibility not to put other people’s lives in danger,” he said.

He, however, pointed out that that the ministry has sought the support of the national police on the matter.

Criminal liability

Commenting on the issue, CP Kabera said that anyone found to have tested positive for Covid-19 but is proven to have continued mingling with the masses will be prosecuted.

“These people are not fearing Covid-19 but they are also not fearing the idea of infecting others. That’s unacceptable. They will be prosecuted and jailed. We will treat this as a criminal offense because we will assume that you intentionally want to infect others,” he said.

Article 117 of the Penal Code states that any person who wilfully transmits to another person an illness commits an offence.

Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of at least two years and not more than three years and a fine of not less than Rwf300,000 and not more than Rwf500,000.

Requirements of a patient on home-based care

According to RBC, a person who is placed on home-based case will together with other members of the household be on self-quarantine, and the home will observe strict social distancing measures and hygiene.

Household members must limit movements in the house and shared spaces; should always wear facemasks and maintain a two-metre distance from each other.

The caregiver of the patient must wear a medical mask (other household members may wear a cloth mask).

Basic personal protective equipment (mainly gloves) should be used when cleaning surfaces.

After cleaning, the protective equipment that has been used should be cleaned with soap and water and decontaminated with 0.5% percent chlorine solution. 

Regardless of how fast they improve, patients on home-based care must be in isolation at home for at least 14 days. After that period, then medics expected to check their status by conducting tests of Covid-19 RT-PCR, 24 hours apart.

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