Tackling COVID-19 Upsurge : Vaccine Announced, Total Mobilisation Prescribed

Below is the special of the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Joseph Dion Ngute on March 5, 2021 in the ongoing Government Response Strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

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I would like to start by saying that this statement is in compliance with the instructions of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA.

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As you are probably aware, within the framework of the implementation of Government' s response strategy, on 17 March 2020, the Head of State issued a series of restrictive measures aimed at limiting the spread ofCOVID-19 in our country.

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Although these restrictions were stringent, they were beneficial.

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The actions implemented by Government helped to curb the spread of the pandemic in our country and to save lives.

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To ease patient care, isolation units for COVID- 19 infected persons and specialised treatment centres were opened.

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The control of the pandemic led the President of the Republic to decide on a gradual easing of certain restrictive measures.

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As a result, on 30 April 2020, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities were allowed to remain open after 6 p.m.

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Pupils and students in examination classes, in primary and secondary education, as well as university students, learners in vocational centres and professional schools were able to resume in-person classes from 1 June 2020.

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This decision enabled them to complete the 2019-2020 school and academic year, and to continue their training for the current 2020-2021 year.

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Moreover, considering the effects of this pandemic on the national economic and social fabric, the Head of State decided to grant facilities to companies in difficulty and to the most modest households.

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The application of these measures helped to lay the groundwork for our economic recovery and to regain a certain social balance in the face of this harmful disease.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

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Despite the efforts made to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our country, there has been a resurgence of the pandemic in many of our cities in recent weeks.

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Updated statistics show that 34 thousand 887 patients have already been cured of this disease since it first appeared in our country.

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However, in the space of one week, more than three thousand (3,000) new cases were recorded, bringing the overall number of people testing positive for COVID-19 to 38 thousand 988.

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Over the same period, 37 patients died as a result of this disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 588.

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There is every reason to believe that the deterioration in the epidemiological situation that we are observing today is largely due to the laxity in the application of safety measures and to the failure to comply with the restrictive measures taken on 17 March 2020, some of which are still in force.

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Indeed, a very large majority of our compatriots gather carelessly in public or private spaces, disregarding the rules of social distancing, and without taking into account the limit of 50 people for any gathering.

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Many no longer even wear masks, which is compulsory in all public places.

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Some even continue to think that COVID-19 is a pure invention, or that it exists only in other countries.

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Such behaviour is irresponsible and favours the spread of the virus, especially at a time when many variants have been discovered in certain countries.

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This disease is real. It continues to wreak havoc among our loved ones, and strikes brutally at people with co-morbidity.

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In this context, Government has an obligation to protect each and every one of its citizens, despite the reluctance or denial of the reality of this disease by some of our compatriots.

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I therefore seize this opportunity to remind everyone that the measures taken on 1 7 March 2020, which were not expressly lifted by the President of the Republic, are, and remain in force.

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They include:

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- the prohibition of gatherings of more than fifty (50) people throughout the national territory;

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- working remotely and using electronic means of communication as much as possible, especially for the organisation of meetings, where social distancing cannot be observed;

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- the suspension of missions abroad for members of Government and public and para-public sector agents, except in the case of express derogation;

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- the systematic wearing of masks in all public places and respect for social distancing.

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Considering the significant increase in the number of cases of contamination and in order to ensure the effective application of the measures already enacted:

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-Administrative authorities have just been instructed by the Minister of Territorial Administration to ensure, within the framework of their administrative police missions, that hand washing or the use of hand sanitizers is reinstated at the entrance of all establishments open to the public, including places of worship .

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-The Ministers in charge of Education and the Minister of Trade would also ensure the application of this measure, respectively in schools and universities, as well as in shopping centres .

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-Safety measures must be complied with in all circumstances and in all places, including in open markets and meeting places, such as bus stations, taxi and motorbike pick-up points, as well as in public transport.

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I would like to stress that access to any establishment open to the public will henceforth be subject to the wearing of a mask .

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-Also, screening at air, sea and land borders have been stepped up to reduce the risk of importing variants of COVID-19.

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-Large gatherings and risky behaviour are prohibited.

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I particularly insist on the imperative need to rigorously respect the limit of fifty (50) persons as well as safety measures, during meetings, ceremonies, events and other official or private celebrations, especially when these meetings take place in closed places, in order to avoid the emergence of clusters.

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We must not lose sight of the fact that each individual protects himself and others.

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With a view to strengthening our prevention mechanism, the Government, on the instructions of the Head of State, has taken steps with partner organisations to acquire vaccines against COVID- 19.

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More than one million doses of the vaccine will be available in the very near future.

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Once these vaccines become available, a vaccination plan shall be set up, and vaccination shall be voluntary.

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I would like to note that although vaccination is voluntary and not compulsory, the Government encourages all Cameroonians to be vaccinated when the time comes, in order to acquire the immunity that will enable our community to protect itself against COVID-19 for a return to normalcy.

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While waiting for the outcome of on-going steps, personal disciplines, as well as the strengthening of individual and collective prevention measures, are the most effective means

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 of halting the spread of this disease in our country and preserving the lives of our fellow citizens.

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I therefore invite all of us to mobilise in solidarity, especially community relays such as religious and traditional authorities, opinion leaders, political leaders, associations and trade unions:

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- let us all observe the directives of the Head of State concerning the fight against COVID-19;

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- let us work together to fight this pandemic that disrupts our social balance and the realisation of our development projects;

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- let us rise and bar the way to the spread of this disease:

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- by respecting basic hygiene rules;

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.:.                         -by systematically wearing our masks in all public places;

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.:.                         -by respecting social distancing as much as possible;

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    -and avoiding popular gatherings.

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This is a collective requirement, but also, and above all, a civic duty which transcends our personal, religious or philosophical beliefs.

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Thank you. »

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