Bulletin 002 on COVID-19 in Cameroon

Cameroon is one of  many countries that have been hit by the coronavirus. The first case was detected on the 3rdof March and 21 days later, there has been an upsurge to 88 confirmed cases. Majority of the cases were confirmed between the 20th and 26th of March with most of these cases in the center region and  fewer cases reported in Littoral and the West Regions. Figure 1 shows the incidence since the index case was detected.

covid19 cameroon regions 26-03-20.jpeg

Figure 1: The incidence of COVID 19 in Cameroon in March – @ Copyright Nkafu Policy Institute

 

The exponential increase in the number of cases

Cameroon among other countries has experience an exponential increase in the number of cases within a short period of time. Projections suggest that if the preventive measures put in place are not effectively implemented the number of cases will further increase. The chart below shows the exponential increase in the number of cases and a projection of more cases.

Increase in number of COVID-19 cases in Some African Countries

Figure 2: Increase in number of COVID-19 cases in Some African Countries

Challenges of preventing the spread of COVID -19 in Cameroon

The preventive measures announced by the government of Cameroon are timidly being respected by Cameroonians. For example the lockdown has not been effective as individuals who make income on a daily basis like in the transportation sectors are still up and about. Also, open markets are still functional for the population to buy daily needs including food and other amenities. Most of these happen without following social distancing procedures and hygienic practices.  School shutdown has been effective throughout the country, raising the challenge to employ e-learning platforms for their students which for most schools, is impossible at this time. Few schools are able to roll teaching through an e-learning platforms.

Health Education is ongoing through various media on the appropriate hand washing practices to curb spread of the coronavirus but the lack of clean and portable water in several communities in Cameroon makes this necessary measure seem improbable.  Furthermore, the recommended hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants are neither readily available nor affordable. These, alongside the inherent difficulty of inducing widespread behavioral changes stand as hindrances to making appropriate hygienic practices a reality.

What is quarantine and how can is it being carried out in our context

In public health practice, “quarantine” refers to the separation of persons (or communities) who have been exposed to an infectious disease. Governments use quarantines to stop the spread of contagious diseases. Quarantine may be used during: an outbreak, an epidemic or a pandemic. Isolation serves the same purpose as quarantine, but the difference is that; it is reserved for those who are already sick. It keeps infected people away from healthy people to prevent the disease from spreading. Some effective quarantine measures include: Public health quarantine, isolation, voluntary home quarantine, Social distancing, Self-monitor and lockdowns. In the case of COVID-19, the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon is committing to quarantine suspected cases, implement lock downs and also isolate those who are already infected with the virus throughout their treatment process.

What are the treatment options for COVID-19

Scientist are still at work finding an effective cure for the COVID 19 virus which has continued to claim thousands of lives. A number of drugs are undergoing trials for treatment and these range from failed ebola drugs, to malaria drugs which were no longer in clinical use; chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine among others. In Cameroon, chloroquine (Nivaquine) 500 mg or hydroxy-chloroquine Sulfate is being used as a first line treatment together with Azithromycin 500 mg. These practices are susceptible to change as research on treatment evolves.

Testing capacity of Cameroon

The Ministry of Public Health has developed a preparedness plan for COVID-19, including active surveillance at points of entry, in-country diagnostic capacity at the national reference laboratory (Centre Pasteur in Yaoundé) and designated isolation and treatment centers. The testing capacity is low in Cameroon due the lone center available for testing. One of the vital things countries around the world need to be doing to understand and curb the spread of COVID-19 is testing. On the 20th March 2020 South Africa was able to detect 150 cases after carrying out 6,438 tests. The number of cases in Cameroon might be more than is currently reported by the Ministry of Public Health given that it has carried out at total of 247 tests (report on 23rd March 2020) in its lone center. If the testing sites are increased and or more widespread testing is undertaken, the number of new cases is likely to increase, in line with projections from epidemiologic models. Figure 3 shows that the number of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 was at 1,764 on March 24th 2020.

Figure 3: Number of Deaths due to COVID-19 in the World

Figure 3: Number of Deaths due to COVID-19 in the World

 

How you can help

  • You can join the Corona Virus Taskforce in Cameroon. Use this link
  • Signup for the Weekly Webinar on the pandemic in Cameroon. Register here
  • Share this information with family, friends and colleagues
  • Stay at home as much as possible and call the hotline if you or a family member develops symptoms (fever, cough, running nose, etc.)

About the Corona Virus Taskforce Cameroon

The Taskforce was established to mobilize health experts, clinicians, policymakers, students and community leaders to quickly address the growing challenges the country faces in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to advice on strategies to mitigate its effects on the most vulnerable populations such as those internally displaced from ongoing conflicts. Its overall goal is to minimize the total mortality as a result of this pandemic.