Rwanda’s strong health-care system and strictly coordinated prevention measures against COVID-19 have helped the country to record zero deaths from the disease so far. As the pandemic threatens to gather momentum in Africa, other governments there could benefit from lessons we have learnt.

Rwanda implemented full lockdown a week after its first case was reported in mid-March. A week later, it set up a contact-tracing system and implemented testing for all staff policing borders, as well as those working in public spaces such as banks and bars. By the end of April, 29,395 citizens had been tested for COVID-19 (prevalence was 0.7%). The nation’s community health network has enabled the government — with help from the private sector — to identify populations in need of extra support.

Africa has so far recorded relatively few cases and deaths compared with other continents ( Strict prevention measures that are coordinated across countries could keep it that way. Regional bodies such as the East African Community should agree guidelines for full lockdown, backed by surveillance and a supranational testing laboratory, and follow up with population-impact surveys for mental health and COVID-19 serological status.