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Knowledge, attitudes and preventive practices towards COVID-19 among frontline healthcare workers in Rwanda

Ndishimye Pacifique1,*, Nkeshimana Menelas2, Hitimana Nadia3, Turatsinze David2, Nahayo Ernest4,
Byiringiro Fidele4, Habinshuti Mike1, Nyamusore Jose1, Nyamwasa Daniel5, Yvonne Kayiteshonga7,
Mutesa Leon6, Nsanzimana Sabin1

1Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Kigali, Rwanda
2University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, Kigali, Rwanda
3Clinton Health Access Initiative, Kigali, Rwanda
4Rwanda Military Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda
5Kacyiru Police Hospital, Kigali, Rwanda
6Centre for Human Genetics, University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda
7COVID-19 Joint Task Force Committee, Kigali, Rwanda



The aim of the study was to assess knowledge, attitudes and preventive practices towards COVID-19 among frontline healthcare workers in Rwanda. It was a descriptive cross-sectional study conducted with 177 healthcare workers at the frontline for the current outbreak. Half of the respondents were aged between 31-40 and majority were males, mostly physicians, and working more in urban rather than rural settings. Almost all respondents were able to correctly identify COVID-19 key symptoms, and 89% were aware of factors likely to be associated with increased fatality rates. Considerable proportions of respondents understood dynamics of COVID-19 infectiousness: 87% respondents were aware of possibility of infection before the onset of symptoms; 99% completers responded yes on droplets and fomites as a major transmission route. All respondents- 100 % understood and agreed on the necessity of self-isolation and quarantine as COVID-19 control measures, and about 95% reported to be mainly adopting hand washing, social distancing, limiting unnecessary travels and crowds as well as using facial masks and gloves. All survey respondents were well informed about COVID-19 and its prevention, in a relative way, and it seems to influence their attitudes and practices regarding the prevention of the outbreak.



The novel coronavirus pneumonia (abbreviated “COVID-19”) is an infectious acute respiratory infection caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus is a positive-strand RNA virus with high homology to bat coronavirus. This pneumonia was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and currently presents a significant global health threat for the entire world. COVID-19 is highly transmitted via droplets and fomites during close unprotected contact between an infector and infectee, and based on current evidence, its main clinical symptoms include fever (with temperature above 38 degrees celsius), dry cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle pain, and difficult breathing.

The COVID-19 epidemic has spread very quickly these last days, and more people infected with this virus have since been and continue to be identified in different countries. In response to the pandemic situation, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a public health emergency of international concern on January 30 and put in place a series of recommendations calling for collaborative efforts from all countries to prevent further spread of COVID-19. No specific antiviral therapies are available, but efforts to develop antivirals and a vaccine continue (8).

Following the confirmation of its first COVID-19 case on 14/03/2020, Rwanda activated and adopted several unprecedented measures to control COVID-19 transmission, first in the epi-center (Rwanda’s capital city- Kigali) but also expanded these measures in other provinces of the country. Measures included air travel bans, closure of all borders, suspension of public transportation, limitations of unnecessary movements, closing of public spaces such as schools, churches, isolation and care for COVID-19 infected patients and/ or suspected cases. From March 20, 2020, a national lockdown, self-quarantine campaign was launched and led by Rwanda National Police- requiring people to stay and work from home.

In addition to this, Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) were activated at central and district levels to respond to the pandemic. These multi-sectoral RRTs operate from inside the National COVID-19 Joint Taskforce and are composed of members with different profiles including medical doctors, nurses, infection prevention and control experts, lab technicians, epidemiologists, public health officers and psychologists among others. 

Global and in country evidence shows that the battle against COVID-19 is still continuing, and health professionals are and will continue to play an important role in the management and response of the outbreak. To guarantee success, people's adherence to COVID-19 well informed control measures is essential and is largely affected by their knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) towards the disease. Previous studies have shown that knowledge and attitudes towards infectious diseases are associated with level of panic emotions among the population, which can further complicate attempts to prevent the spread of the disease.
The aim of this assessment was to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and preventive practices among frontline health professionals towards COVID-19. Findings form this survey may be useful in recommending any remedial measures and additional interventions to improve awareness and attitudes among concerned task forces.



By: Pacifique Ndishimye, Msc, PhD

Category: Outbreak report

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