Situational Analyses of COVID 19 in Cameroon for the Month of March
A total number of 785,826 COVID 19 cases as of March 31st, 2020 were registered worldwide with 37,825 deaths (Case Fatality Rate of 4.8%). Since the first case in sub-Saharan Africa appeared the number of new cases has risen exponentially. This case was imported from Italy to Nigeria on the 27th February 2020.
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 6, 2020 and since then case detection has known an exponential increase. As of March 31, cases had risen to 223, distributed between 4 regions namely, the Center, Littoral, West and South West Regions. Figure 1 shows daily incidence rates for Cameroon during the month of March. The Ministry reported that most of these cases were imported from other countries in addition to ongoing local transmission of the disease within the country.
Figure 1: Daily cases of COVID-19 in Cameroon in the month of March
Out of the 223 cases of COVID-19 in Cameroon a total of 10 (7%) recovered and 6 (4%) died from the disease by the end of March 2020. This therefore implies that out of the 16 cases who had an outcome (gone through the full course of the disease and either recovered or died), 37% (6/16) died and 63% (10/16) fully recovered. This is figures signifies a call for action because if the same trends remains in the month of April, Cameroon is likely to lose more cases. These figures may not be reflective of the trends for most patients as the peak incidence rates were observed towards the end of the month (March 23 and 29) and outcomes would be too early to judge by March 31. However, much will need to be done to make sure that recovery significantly outpaces mortality as an outcome.
Figure 2: Situation of all COVID 19 cases in Cameroon with an outcome as of 31/03/2020
The Way Forward
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in one of his recent outings placed emphasis on testing in order to detect cases early, avoid further spread and reduce mortality. In his own words, ‘test, test and test’ is the way to go. Cameroon as of now has only two testing centers; one based in the Center Region (the Centre Pasteur in Yaoundé) and the other in the Littoral Region (Laquintini Hospital). This centralised system of testing may present a major problem for rapid case detection as turnaround time for results becomes longer. Increase workload and delays due to sample transportation could further limit effectiveness and also present a challenge regarding the quality of the results.
With these in mind, we therefore recommend:
- Decentralised testing in all regions.
- The capacities of laboratories need to be assessed in terms of equipment, human resource and laboratory bio-safety management. This will help in the decentralization of testing sites
- Train medical staff should be trained on the management of these cases and provide them with resources required for appropriate case management such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), drugs etc.
- Engagement of local chiefs, community health workers, religious leaders and key persons in the community should be engaged in appropriate sensitization of the public on signs, symptoms, measures of prevention, and on what to do if they know someone presenting with signs and symptoms.
- Create a working group of experts (NGOs, doctors, epidemiologists, nurses, Minister of health etc.) to constantly analyses and make context adapted changes.
Dr. Gobina Ronald / Odette Kibu / Wilfred Ngwa