Fifteen (15) days after government’s stringent measures to tackle the global health crisis and strengthen its citizens’ capacity to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in the country, the journey seems to have just begun as the number of cases from Covid-19 keeps increasing. As Cameroonians begin yet another two-week self confinement, Cameroon Tribune looks at how far they went into applying the measures to prevent and protect themselves against Covid-19.
Urban and Inter-urban travels
In a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Minister of Transport, Jean Ernest Masséna Ngalle Bibehe in a press release on March 23, 2020, reminded Cameroonians that travelling from one town to another or between two regions should only take place in cases of extreme necessity. This is a measure that is yet to sink deep into the heads of many Cameroonians. Although there is the general drop in the number of people travelling, there are a good number of people who still undertake movements that could be suspended. Such trivial trips, experts say, can wait at a time when all efforts are being made by the government to protect and prevent the population against the Coronavirus.
In the same press statement of Monday, March 23, Jean Ernest Masséna Ngalle Bibehe asked motorcycle riders to carry only one person. Taxis were required to transport only four people at a time including the driver. As far as mass transport is concerned, buses with 50 seats are allowed to fill up. However, 70-passenger wide-body buses are only allowed to carry 50 passengers. Buses with 30 to 35 seats are only allowed to carry 20 passengers amongst others. The Minister also prohibited the pick-up of passengers en route and the grouping of more than 50 people in the boarding lounges. On a wide scale, transport operators have been doing their best to respect the measures against Covid-19. However, there are those motorbikes and transport operators who are still reckless and care less about efforts to prevent the Coronavirus amongst passengers.
Health and Hotel Facilities
Several hotels in Yaounde and Douala have been requisitioned by the government to accommodate those coming into the country from Europe and other countries attacked by the Coronavirus. Such was the case with passengers who came into Cameroon on March 17, 2020 on board Air-France. Some of them were taken to hotels in different neighbourhoods in Yaounde and Douala. 17 hotel establishments have been requisitioned in Yaounde by the Governor of the Centre, Naseri Paul Bea, for at least 300 rooms. Security has been reinforced around these structures.
Preference To Electronic Communication
Work in many offices have been reorganised to prevent Covid-19. There is the promotion of digital communication tool as a way for staff to carry out their duties, meet to discuss the execution of projects and way forward in office duties. In a situation where more than 10 workers must meet, some General Managers have gone further to prescribe the wearing of face mask and gloves by all those who must attend the meeting.
This measure is effective and applied at all levels within the Government, public and para-public structures
Respect for Hygiene Measures
The public is strictly urged to observe hygiene measures recommended by the World Health Organisation, including regular hand washing with soap, avoiding close contact such as shaking hands or hugging, and covering the mouth when sneezing. These measures are still being neglected by a good number of people who still do not see why they should not shake hands. There are even those who go as far as hugging and exchange kisses. Respecting the 1.5 metres, social distance or even covering the mouth when sneezing is still not observed by many people.