Before the decision of the Prime Minister to close down schools and borders, the coronavirus scare already existed in Douala as some administrations put sterilisers at the disposal of staff and visitors, and limited physical contact by avoiding handshakes. But this was more out of fun than of the conviction as some people revelled in the thought that the disease does not affect black people. But since the declaration of the Prime Minister, things have changed.
On Wednesday, March 18, few children could be found going to and from school as some merely wanted to find out whether the ban would be effective. Children were turned back from school while parents could be seen around the Sacred Heart College in New Bell, taking their children away from the campus. However, it was the usual hustle and bustle at the New Bell market otherwise known as Marche Central. At the shell New Bell junction police officers could be found enforcing the ban on agglomeration by sending children back home. Rumours have it that in some schools, the authorities refused to allow the children go home claiming that they had not yet written the exams and were just one week to the holidays.
The prescription prohibiting overloading in public transport is shelved, as taxi driver and commercial motorbike riders could still be seen overloading. A helicopter that flew over the town created fear as many people thought it was out to enforce the ban by making sure that more than fifty people do not come together. Many meetings and seminars have also been cancelled. Shortly after the announcement on Tuesday night, passengers from an Air France plane that landed in Douala were whisked off to a hotel in Douala by the Governor of the Littoral Region where they are being quarantined for 14 days and tested for the virus. International travellers have been rescheduling flight programmes to leave the country before or after the travel ban imposed by many European countries. Though there is no general psychosis of fear, the word coronavirus is on every lip. It suffices for someone to cough for the person nearby to throw jibes such as “do not contaminate me with the coronavirus”, or “Is it coronavirus”? Others make a fun about the advice to avoid touches and greet with the elbow or with the leg. At ENEO Kumasi people are given sterilizers at the entrance by the sentry and asked again to sterilise their hands before their transaction in the building.