People all over the world are worried about the coronavirus and some of these people have gone into serious anxiety issues. Cameroonians, home and abroad, are not less worried.
As at April 8, Cameroons Minister of Public Health announced that the country has recorded 43 patients cured from COVID-19. “Other patients are currently being monitored and may be declared healed following a negative result to the test,” the minister said.
But by the close of April 7, Cameroon had registered 685 cases of Covid-19, with nine deaths, overtaking other countries to become the second hardest hit in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. Cameroon now has over 15 times as many confirmed cases as any other country in the central African sub-region and one of the highest numbers of daily new cases on the continent.
And while, there are arguments that Cameroon, like some other countries, is not quite equipped to fight this pandemic, they also grapple with the fact that their leader, President Paul Biya has not publicly addressed his people since the country recorded its first case on March. Typical of the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, though has now addressed Nigerians twice. Biya’s next door colleague, Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, with 30 confirmed cases, has addressed his people on at least three occasions.
Biya was last seen in public on March 11, when he received the US ambassador to Cameroon at the Unity Palace in Yaoundé. No official mention has been made of his whereabouts thereafter. Even pressure from activists and opposition leaders has not forced him to talk to his Cameroonians.
It is apparent that Cameroon is hardly prepared to fight COVID-19, but Biya will prefer to stay indoors and watch as the ‘movie’ unfolds. He, however, instructed the prime minister to put in place a 13-point response strategy and has through social media called on Cameroonians to respect the measures put in place. From wherever he is, the president has also signed several decrees, including one instituting a national solidarity fund to fight COVID-19 and another appointing officials to lead the reconstruction of the conflict-ravaged English-speaking regions in the country’s southwest.
It is not unprecedented that Biya will rather not show address his citizens, and even when rumour of his demise flooded social media, he did not move. And the talk of him spending more time abroad than at home is not untrue.