As of 27th March 2020
This is how we are since the March 10 health tsunami. The disease started in Kinshasa through people arriving from abroad: France, Belgium, USA; and then it spread among the population. Kinshasa is the third largest megalopolis in Africa, with 12 and a half million inhabitants who live mostly in unhealthy cities. The situation is worsening because 15 days ago, there were three cases; but this has now gone up to 45 -- and that is a lot. To date, one person has been cured, and three have died.
The confinement measure of staying at home is dificult to respect because the people earn day-to-day and are thus unable to build a financial reserve. If they do not go out, they will not be able to eat.
Water and electricity supply is a problem in several communes in Kinshasa, which makes it extremely difficult to comply with the basic hygiene requirements, such as frequent washing of hands. The proximity in the 3-4 family plots does not allow the required "social distancing."
In normal times, transport is difficult. For the moment it is even worse. From three to 19 persons can be transported, depending on the size of the vehicle; and at every stop there is jostling because of people who want to get off ...
On March 24th, President Tshisekedi made a new intervention to underline the gravity of the situation. Researchers and the president identified Gombe, Kitambo and the commune of Kinshasa as the epicenter of the pandemic. These are now considered as red zones.
From March 25th the capital has been quarantined -- no more entry or exit from the provinces to Kinshasa, and vice versa. The external borders have been closed since March 19 and the internal borders since today. The President has stepped up preventive measures.
Like everywhere else, all is closed. Only food shops are open, as well as the markets. All schools are closed and all of our workers have gone back home. We have closed everything except the two health centres of Kiapko and Mbansa Mboma, which we entrust to your prayers because there is no means of prevention (masks, sufficient gloves...).
In the Province, all of our meetings, the April retreat, the visit of Tchad, are cancelled. So as not to travel, the Provincial council is functioning via Skype.
In the community, so far so good. We observe the preventive measures as recommended and have set up a new way of living together 24/7, including sharing of tasks with our workers. Time allows us to pray more. Eucharist is rare, if not completely absent in some communities, as priests are not able to travel, at least to Kinshasa. Sr. Elysée Masala had the welcome initiative to propose a chain of perpetual adoration throughout the province, Tchad included (from 00:00-24:00). Practically all of the RSCJ participate, even those who are in France and Spain. Sometimes, there are several at the same hour.
Our hope is that Kinshasa will be spared from this scourge. It would be a real catastrophe, especially in the cities. Will the Lord hear our prayer? Thank you for accompanying and supporting us, along with the countries of Europe and the USA which are already heavily affected.
For the moment there are two recorded cases in the country; but already there is confinement, although poorly respected because people do not seem to be aware yet of the danger. The schools are closed, as well as the markets. Our sisters are doing well. The scene is for the moment less bleak than in Kinshasa. On the other hand, there was an attack from Boko Haram on Lake Chad, killing 200 Chadian soldiers, including many from Bongor. Let us be united with these families in their pain.