By Boris Esono Nwenfor
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, local officials in the South West Region have moved to reinforce the wearing of facemasks, the institution of hand-washing stations in major areas and government buildings and the respect of the maximum of fifty persons per gathering.
In a sensitization campaign carried out on March 18 by the SW Governor, Mayor, and other Regional Delegates, the population were reminded of the need to wear facemasks in public spaces and urban transporters were called upon to respect this scrupulously and avoid overloading.
These barrier measures were put in place by the government last year to curb the spread of the virus in the country. However, these measures have for the past months not been respected, from the local population to the local administrators themselves. From public offices to the mark and moto-park, the frequency at which the population wear the facemask had dropped and even the frequency of hand-washing stations had wiped out.
“What we have noticed that people have facemasks but in their pockets and when they see local officials they wear it. To wear the mask is not to please the authorities but to protect their health and others,” South West Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai told journalists after concluding a sensitization campaign on the streets of Buea.
“We invite everyone to wear their mask and tell others to do the same because if one is wearing and the other is not it is a danger. Let us together wear the mask particularly when you are in public.”
“It is not a threat but danger and the danger is death. It is a permanent fight. Let us intensify the fight because according to the specialists this year is more dangerous than last year,” Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai added.
As of Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 1266 positive cases have been recorded in the South West region since the beginning of the pandemic in Cameroon in March 2020. The rate of hospitalization is quite low in the region as compared to other regions of the country.
To curb the spread of the virus, the Regional Delegation of Public Health has carried out screening exercises to detect and isolate positive cases in the Region. In that light, 426 people were tested between Tuesday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 17, with 30 confirmed positive and 8 patients in bed in the isolation centres. Since the virus broke out in the country the Region has witnessed 31 deaths so far.
“There is every reason to believe that we are already in the second wave. From the beginning of this year, the Region has witnessed an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases,” Dr Ebongo Zacheus Nanje, South West Regional Delegate of Public Health told journalists.
“What we should be doing is getting back to the drawing board and the measures prescribed by the government and the WHO. This implies testing and sensitization must be reinforced and those who feel those symptoms should go to the Centres.”
According to the officials, the fight against COID-19 cannot be down just to the health sector. To them, the fight is multi-sectorial and disciplinary. “Everyone should respect the barrier measures and some of them warrant just some change in behaviour and morals. We have to work as a team and COVID-19 is not just for the medical specialists alone,” Dr Ebongo Zacheus Nanje added.