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Covid-19 in Cameroon, a myth or reality?

Covid-19 in Cameroon, a myth or reality?

Going through my phone two days ago, I saw a post of a chat between a nurse and his friend in which the former said since the news of this pandemic in Cameroon, he has never seen nor heard of a case in the hospital. I wonder how Cameroonians can be so unconscious and negligent. This was an indirect way of saying that covid-19 is not real in Cameroon, if not he would have heard of at least one case where he works. Knowing our citizens very well, with this mentality, there is no way this nurse is going to respect the measures put in place to reduce the spread of the pandemic. Instead he will go about discouraging others. In our nation, we are fond of seeing before believing whatever we are told. My mum used to say and I quote “the stubborn fly follows the corps into the grave” instead of discouraging people we should start nudging them to engage in the fight against the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of this pandemic in Cameroon we hear people say that the government lied to receive money from the United Nations Organization (UNO) in the name of we are infected. Despite this we still hear that some of our ministers are infected. Will they fake this to the extent of attributing it to their own health? In my neighborhood when I see a neighbor leaving the house without a face mask and ask why, their responds is always related to the fact that we have been fooled about the presence of this fast spreading virus. Yesterday I asked my neighbor why she cannot respect the restrictions with the motive of preserving and protecting her own kids, her reply was “I will do that when I see a Covid-19 patient with my own eyes.” The safety of kids should be a driving force for parents but this is rare in our context. I don’t think there is any case in the world where a victim dies and is buried by his/her family members since the commencement of this virus.  This is because the virus can also move from a corpse to a healthy person but we still hear ignorant people like this lady who gladly talks of seeing an infected person before believing. An old friend who is a nurse told me how she and her colleagues flee from the hospital whenever they hear there is an infected person in the hospital; they are only seen the next day.

During this period people need to behave like they already have the virus. In that way we could stop the spread easily. When you behave like you are already infected, you will be conscious enough to stay in containment/confinement not only to take care of yourself, but equally to protect your family in particular and the society at large. I watched this video on social media where a man infected in the United States of America stayed in his own house but did not set eyes on any of his kids ever since his discovery of the symptoms. He got his food in front of the door, where it was kept each day. /His food is kept at the door and he gets it. This should be the mindset of every Cameroonian, to protect every one by staying at home as demanded by the government.

Recently the government took a new initiative that wearing face mask is mandatory. Since social distancing cannot be maintained, face masks should be an obligation. That is the step China took to stop the spread of this pandemic and the surprising thing about it is that it worked.

We hear of covid-19 in Cameroon, but it is in this same country that we see markets populated as though we had no crisis. In the same country we equally see bars open and crowded and some churches still function as if everything was normal. I wonder if the act of containment is too difficult for us to implement, if we are just being careless or unconscious about the consequences that can emanate due to such negligence. This movement makes it difficult for people to believe that this pandemic is a reality. This is also because our government is neglecting the containment. In other countries we see how offices are closed and how people are been punished for going to the streets. I called my cousin who is in India to inquire about the containment situation there and he told me that people left their houses only if they were going to get drugs and hand sanitizers from the pharmacy. If you leave for any other motive you are either bitten in public or taken to jail. It’s true that violence is not always the solution to a problem but if violence is the only way to prevent people from ending up in their graves why not execute it? If the government is not putting such initiative in place, how then will Cameroonians not conclude that Covid-19 in Cameroon is a myth?

Some ignorant citizens say Africans have a strong immune system which makes strong enough to resist the virus. Yesterday an infected Cameroonian died in the US and the surprising part of it is that he didn’t contact it there but he was infected in Cameroon before leaving this country. This evening I read in the news that a doctor from the Douala General Hospital, Dr Kwedi who was tested positive to the coronavirus has died. This is the second medical practitioner who has died of the virus in our country. Do you still think it is a joke? Everyday we hear the increasing number of infected persons which should actually intrigue us especially with the dead toll statistics we hear in other countries.

A man told me some days back that those who don’t stock their houses with food in preparation for the worst during this pandemic are not poor but stupid. If you reason with this man you will understand that he knows the dangers of this pandemic and he knows that no matter how much we want to be free from it, it is not going anytime soon. The new coronavirus knows no poor nor rich man. It has no business with luxuries. No matter your status if you are not careful in observing the necessary measures to prevent this virus, it will hit you like a rock. Corona views both the rich and poor with a suspicious eye.

Are we waiting to be vulnerable before we take steps to fight this demon that has come to wipe the human race completely? We have no time to procrastinate, whether or not it is real. What we should be doing now is taking measures to protect ourselves and the society we are living in. I leave you with this food for thought, even if we are doubting the presence of this virus in our motherland, should we neglect it there by giving it room to actually visit us?

Susan Mukong

Student in Journalism, University of Yaounde II-Soa (Advanced School of Mass Communication)

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