The Minister’s disturbing pronouncement

EDITORIAL 04 Jun 2020
The Minister’s disturbing pronouncement

Recent declarations by the minister of public health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie, are to many, very disturbing. Early last week, the minister warned that the situation of the spread of the corona-virus, despite efforts that have been put in place, is becoming complicated. At press time, Cameroon already records a total of 5,904 cases with 3,568 recoveries and l91 deaths! With these developments, we think the minister has the right to describe the situation as becoming increasingly complicated and therefore disturbing.
In the first place, the ratio accounting for increasing number of detected cases, recoveries and the deaths is certainly what is most disturbing. That, the number of detected cases, instead of dropping is only rising, certainly calls for a review of our efforts so far exerted to arrest the situation. Under the present circumstances, it becomes even more pertinent to ask the question: on whose door step must the blame be laid?
We are convinced that, like most other countries, government’s initial measures involving a comprehensive shut-down, which included the prohibition of huge gatherings, limited to not more than 50 persons in one spot were most appropriate. Such restrictions included even churches, mosques, drinking and eating places etc. The restrictions even made it compulsory for masks to be worn in public places such as markets. We think it all went well. Masks were bought and worn. Places were ordered to operate until 6.pm. What should be noted is that, most people grumbled against these measures no doubt, but they were compelled even by their own conscience that they must obey.
We want to believe that there was a genuine reason why these measures were put in place, and within the first few weeks of the restrictions, the spread seemed to have been on check. If we did ask the question, on whose door steps the blame for the now increasing number of detected cases should be laid, it is because the most important, and perhaps most effective measure was the ban on open gatherings which involved social distancing and the wearing of masks. If we should answer the question ourselves, the blame should be put on government for reneging so soon, on a decision it took which was believed to be in the best interest of the people, without applying a long tern examination of the proper results.
Besides, government failed to take into consideration the mentality of the population, especially when it comes to accepting the reality of a particular situation. We think all of us, especially government, ought to have learned some lessons from the early days of the HIV-AIDS attack, of which many Cameroonians took for a mere illusion, until it started taking its toll on many, before a treatment was discovered. This time around, after the lifting of some of the measures initially put in place for better results, there was jubilation among the population that the restrictions having been lifted, merely on the presumption that the killer diseases has at last been brought under control, and for this reason, those measures had outlived their usefulness. But if one may ask, is it really true that, these measures have outlived their usefulness? The answer is obviously NO.
We are saying no, because the minister of public health has actually foreseen the complications he had earlier warned about. In another rush decision, government has ordered that schools must resume today, Monday, June 1, 2020. We share in the minister’s fears. For instance, the level of preparedness for the resumption of schools raises even more questions than answers.
As if to compound these complications, 19 Teachers Unions have been saying NO to schools reopening come June 1, citing the increasing positive COVID-19 cases recorded. Parents on their part, as well as some students themselves, are equally expressing worries on how classes can resume in the face of the rising threat of the disease. We are therefore at the cross-roads, where parents will have to choose between their children being given the opportunity to live on the one hand, and their diplomas which may only end up being awarded to them in their graves. Certainly the first option of seeing our children alive carries the day. All we are saying is that, some serious attention should be paid to the issue of health security in schools in order to arrest this invasion.

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