Rwandan authorities on Friday told public sector workers to get vaccinated against COVID or resign, further tightening the strict pandemic measures which have seen people flee the country.
“Rights of people have limits,” said local government minister Jean Marie Gatabazi.
“We have given them (public servants) time to think. Those who refused to be vaccinated categorically they resign from their jobs”, he added.
Gatabazi, talking on national television, added that the state must protect the right of the vaccinated not to be infected by the virus.
Rwanda, with a population of 13 million, has enforced some of the strictest anti-COVID measures in Africa and implemented a rigorous regime of testing and contact-tracing.
Vaccination is mandatory to use public transport or go to bars, restaurants and public gatherings. Around a hundred Rwandan fled across the border to DR Congo in recent days, saying they were escaping the vaccine rules, mainly for religious reasons. Most have since returned.
“No one is being forced to get vaccinated,” said Julien Mahoro Niyingabira, government spokesman on health matters.
“They just don’t want to comply with the rules that require them to be vaccinated to use public transport, access markets and so on. These rules are put in place to reduce the risk of infection,” he told journalists.
Some government employees said they had already lost their jobs after refusing to be vaccinate, and that they believed their dismissals were unfair.
Six million Rwandans have already been double vaccinated, one of the best rates in Africa. Unlike other countries in the region, Rwanda has also started administering vaccine booster shots to eligible adults.
There have been 123,886 coronavirus cases registered since the start of the pandemic, including 1,395 fatalities.