Cameroon: COVID-19 is not over. We need to follow the Barrier Measures – Experts Say

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Officials say the respect of barrier measures against COVID-19 is imperative by all

Health officials say Cameroonians should continue to adhere to the barrier measures put in place against the Coronavirus. This according to the officials will help in flattening the curve in the country.

In a webinar organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation titled “Assessing Cameroon’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” on July 30, 2020, the experts say everyone has the responsibility to sensitize their communities against the virus.

The webinar sought to evaluate the interventions taken by the Cameroon government in response to the pandemic, the challenges faced, and the way forward for Cameroon’s growth and development amidst the pandemic.

Assessing the implementation in the country, Professor Emeritus Rose Gana Fomban Leke, Queen Mother Cameroon Medical Community, Heroine of Health 2018 said at the beginning the disease was taken lightly, and there was a lot of relaxation in terms of wearing masks, the practising of social distancing. “These measures are not being respected across the country. Going into stores before now you had to wash your hands and other measures, but today that is not the case,” Prof Emeritus Rose Leke said.

“… Groups, mayors and others have taken upon themselves to carry out sensitization campaigns in their areas, and hopefully, things will improve,” She added.

Statistics provided by Cameroon’s Health Minister indicates that the confirmed cases in the country stood at 17, 225, as of July 29, 2020. 15, 320 have recovered from the virus, while 387 have died. 149,000 tests have been carried out with a lethality rate of 2.2 per cent.

The government of Cameroon has put measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, though the measures have in most cases been abandoned, and the government criticized for relaxing some of the measures.

 The wearing of face masks has been identified as one of the best methods of preventing COVID-19. The government has been calling on Cameroonians to wear masks always, but moving along the streets shows a different scenario. Many Cameroonians flout this measure and some even say there is no COVID-19. 

Professor Charles Wiysonge, Director of the South African Cochrane Centre said the wearing of face masks in Cameroon stands at a rate of 60-80%. “We hope the rate goes up to 95% which will prevent more people from dying,” He said.

The world is moving at a fast rate in terms of looking for a vaccine for the coronavirus. America, Britain and China are already in phase three trials to get a vaccine. Professor Charles Wiysonge on this aspect said no corners will be taken in the production of a vaccine for consumption.

“Vaccines take a number of years before it is validated. Today, we are talking about 12-18 months or less with the speed at which the trails are ongoing. Those vaccines that will not stand the testing capabilities will be thrown out. Nobody will be given bad vaccines. Safety is of utmost importance. I can assure you care is taken because it is recommended and safe,” Prof. Wiysonge said.

The government has ordered the production of Chloroquine, a drug used for the treatment of malaria. Professor Leke said the drugs will be produced as the order was given a few months ago by the President of the Republic. “Many studies have shown that the drug is effective and that is where the government is heading. COVID-19 has taught us a lesson, putting more in research and aspects which are critical in making the country self-sufficient,” She said.

The drug has been touting by US President Donald Trump. Scientists and even the World Health Organization, WHO has not confirm the veracity of the drug. “What is the essence of that drug? Chloroquine has not been proven to treat COVID-19 successfully. It was unfortunate that Donald Trump took this thing up, spoke about it and publicized it,” a German-based Medical Doctor questioned.

The Nkafu policy institute was encouraged to counteract the misconception and misinformation about the ongoing vaccine trials around the world. There has been a growing concern around the world that the vaccines being produced will have a negative connotation on Africans. “Communities need to see the benefits of the vaccines as if not, there would be a lot of trouble in the future.” Emeritus Professor Leke said.  

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