On March 17, 2020, Cameroonians were listening to their radio and television, with a feeling of surprise tinged with both relief and apprehension, the speech of their Prime Minister concerning the measures taken by the government to address the problems related to the spread of the recently reported COVID-19 pandemic at the gates of Africa.The level of contamination which was mainly announced in China and then in Italy and France during the second week of March, led the Cameroonian authorities to sound the alarm and then move on to the closure of the air borders and the quarantine of passengers from the last flights to the country.
Following these measures announced by the Cameroonian government, the most glaring observation concerns their implementation. In a large minority of cases they are dully followed and in the other, it is limited to words and has faced a general carelessness of the population. It is not uncommon to find, for example, cases of quarantine instructions not followed even by the highest authorities of the republic, restrictions in terms of public gathering mostly ignored (places of religious office, markets, schools, public transport, parties, etc.). Everything seems to continue working as usual.
In social networks, the situation is different, but in a much more theoretical way. This seems to interest only a minority of people concerned by the consequences of this pandemic which is gradually taking root in Africa. It is not uncommon to read about herbal recipes formulated to overcome early symptoms of the virus in the body, while prevention messages in terms of limitation of movements and confinement continue to abound alongside press releases on contamination and death statistics. It is also not uncommon to see articles and videos from some internationally renowned researchers who offer prophylactic and curative solutions based on existing drugs and that are immediately implemented in some countries.
Rapid development of the unexpected consequences of covid-19 in the world
Meanwhile, as of March 29, 2020, the global number of officially registered contamination in more than 183 countries and territories around the world, amounted more than 600,000 cases and more than 30,000 deaths (two-thirds in Europe) since the beginning of the pandemic. These statistics come from a count made by AFP and the declaration of the official site of RTS Info (https://www.rts.ch/), on Saturday March 28 at 10.45 GMT. The number of deaths from developed countries is increasingly alarming. For the moment, the most publicized case, excepted that of China which henceforth is recovering from the horror suffered by its population, is now that of the United States which occupies the first place in terms of statistics of contamination. In fact, since March 28, 2020, more than 103,321 official cases of contamination and 1,668 official cases of death have been announced (source https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases- in-us.html).
The article in the newspaper Les Echos provides more information on global statistics in Europe (mainly in France, Italy and Spain) on the evening of March 28, 2020. https://www.lesechos.fr/monde/enjeux- international/live-March-28-2020-coronavirus-the-point-on-the-situation-in-france-and-in-the-world-1189816. What about other countries when you know that almost all the countries in the world would have become aware of the situation belatedly and immediately instituted national coercive measures.
Faced with this situation, it is important to ask good questions about Africa with the first case of infection officially detected in Algeria since February 25, 2020 (source https://www.afro.who.int/news/second- covid-19-case-confirmed-africa) and more than 4,481 cases of infection officially detected in whole Africa as of March 28, 2020 (source official website ACI Africa https://www.aci-africa.aero/). As of March 27, Cameroon was already announcing 91 cases of contamination with two deaths (source: Minister of Health’s twitter account), which considerably increases the statistics, those were still 27 just a week before. For the cases of death, several not officially confirmed have been mentioned in social networks. These could include, inter alia, cases of people who have welcomed passengers on the last flights to Cameroon, those who have escaped the measures of confinement imposed by the government.
No one is unaware of the fact that the incubation period of this virus lasts about two weeks and often goes unnoticed apart from usual symptoms of ordinary flu. It gives all the time to the person who is infected and ignorant of his real health situation, to carry out occasional self-medication, to spread the virus by rubbing himself with others in his urban and interurban journeys, taking advantage of family and friendly warmth as well as professional and social rapprochements, etc. The trips to the hinterland are the most feared given to the high level of human contact that is of second nature. From all this, it is to wonder what would happen if our African countries found themselves in the same situation as several developed countries through which this pandemic has passed, given the precarious situation of many of our public and private hospitals in in terms of health equipment and expertise and especially the health coverage of countries which remains approximately accessible even to the wealthiest? In the countries most affected today, everything started in the same way until one day everything turned upside down …
Measures undertaken and capacities of actions within the Cameroon-YMCA
For the moment the only most effective solution in Africa and in Cameroon in particular, to limit the spread of the pandemic, remains the individual awareness and empowerment of each citizen wherever he is. Although some of these government measures are questionable by the population in certain aspects of their implementation, it must be said that the urgency of the situation requires their responsible and immediate follow-up to avoid the worst as soon as possible, without forgetting that health information is now regularly updated.
The part of the task to the YMCAs in Africa in this period of health crisis, is that of supporting the populations in the awareness and implementation of measures intended to stop this pandemic. It could also be about feeling concerned by assisting as far as possible and as much as necessary, the public authorities as well as civil society organizations in the management of this crisis. This is a civic duty to which all Unionists should feel engaged in order to mark a strong impact their presence with people in need of knowledge and support.
In Cameroon-YMCA, proactive measures have also been taken to raise awareness among unionists and support them in raising awareness among those around them. The related press release was published on March 19, 2020 by the President of the National Council of Cameroon-YMCA, Dr Alain Douglas WANDJI and is available on the official website at http://ymcacameroon.org. In this press release, the appeals to the suspension of activities within the instances of Cameroon-YMCA, those having the capacity to mobilize more than tens of members on a daily basis, namely Clubs, Local Unions and Branches. He also appeals all Unionists, to dedicate days of Friday to fasting and prayer, under the supervision of the National Responsible for Formation and Spiritual Life within the Movement, Mr. Merlin NKOUAKO. The youth of Cameroon-YMCA, Thanks to its great capacity of mobilization and that of its young leaders and its active presence on almost the entire national triangle, is able to join all initiatives on the ground in terms of support to local populations for the management of this crisis.
In addition to fasting and prayer as stated above, one of the strong recommendations to give to young leaders of Cameroon-YMCA in the various local unions and branches across the country, is that of organizing locally to actively join the national response to this pandemic. Among the initiatives to be implemented, we can mention the rapprochement with local government authorities (prefectures, sub-prefectures, town halls, etc.) as volunteers for sanitation and awareness-raising operations which could be initiated by the government or by civil society organizations. These voluntary initiatives can extend to communications in the media (radio and television), by participating in debate and awareness programs to make the voice of the YMCA heard wherever it may carry. In the event that this pandemic comes to severely affect populations, as has been the case in European countries, they may need psychological support to get back on the track of their lives. The YMCA could play an important role at this level through the implementation of coaching or follow-up programs.
The final word to remember here is what Christ stated in the holy scriptures, in verses 34 to 36 of the 21st chapter of the Book of Luke: “34Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”