Since the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 in Cameroon on the 6th of March, the North West Region of Cameroon recorded no confirmed case for a period of six months but that changed on the 20th of April with the declaration of the first case by Governor Adophe LeLe L’Afrique.
As of this publication, the NW region registers 5 confirmed cases, all imported from the littoral region.
The North West Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr Kingsley Che Soh, says the first and the third cases after having been exposed to the Virus in Douala, voluntarily decided to embark on a trip to Bamenda for testing, explaining they tried severally to get consulted in some health facilities in Douala but without success.
“Ethically, it is wrong for a medical practitioner to reject any patient, irrespective of the reason for consultation. There are provisions by law for anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 and who voluntarily decides to expose the lives of other fellow Cameroonians by travelling to another town, to be severely punished.
“The second case is the member of a family resident in Douala who lost a loved one and decided to come to their village in the North West Region, for a symbolic funeral ceremony, after the deceased was immediately buried in Douala. The fourth and the fifth cases resident in Bamenda received some visitors from Douala and later on presented with respiratory symptoms.”
On March 18th, Cameroon shut down its borders leaving the urban borders open, permitting citizens to travel at will, thereby leaving an open window for transmission. Many Cameroonians on traditional and social media have described the move as a “huge mistake”, calling for a partial or complete lockdown.
On April 2nd, Barrister Akere Muna, 2018 presidential candidate, called on the government via twitter to lockdown the country following the rapid increase of new COVID-19 cases and a drowning economy.
The government in multiple communiqués has asked citizens to limit movements but no plans have been announced for any lockdown.
NW Diagnostic COVID-19 Center
With the creation of regional testing centers for COVID-19 by the minister of public health, Dr Manaouda Malachi, on the 17th of April 2020, a team from Centre Pasteur du Cameroun arrived Bamenda on the 19th of April 2020 to set up the platform for confirmatory Diagnosis of the Virus by the regional delegate.
With a satisfactory confirmation from Dr, Kingsley Che Soh, NW Regional Delegate of Public Health, the center has tested 21 samples and the turnaround time is 48 for the results.
“The contacts of the first confirmed case were tested at the regional center and all indicated negative,” says Dr, Denis Nsame Nforniwe, director of the Bamenda Regional hospital.
*Emmanuella Maikem is a freelance journalist based in the North West Region of Cameroon with special interests in human rights reporting and development communication