This report is produced by OCHA Cameroon in collaboration with the COVID-19 Task Force. It covers the period from 1 February to 31 March 2021. The next report will be issued in May 2021.
The cumulative COVID-19 cases in Cameroon rose with more than 23,000 new cases. In January, Cameroon recorded 30,700 cases including 474 deaths in January 2020; while in March the country recorded 56,596 cases including 779 deaths. With a case fatality rate of 1.4 per cent, Cameroun remains among the 10 most-affected African countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) donated 25 ambulances and medical equipment to the Ministry of Public Health, intended to strengthen the health system and COVID-19 response.
Between 22 and 26 February 2021, the Ministry of Public Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) organized an internal review of the COVID-19 response with partners. The main objective was to examine the national functional capacity of the COVID-19 response.
On 5 March, in his special communication following the significant increase of COVID-19 cases, the Prime Minister reiterated the rigorous observance of preventive measures. He also announced the arrival of more than a million vaccines to strengthen the COVID-19 prevention system in Cameroon.
The COVID-19 epidemiolocal trend is worsening. The country recorded more than 23,000 new positive cases in March. As of 22 March, the UN and NGOs in Cameroon reported 323 cumulative cases and four deaths with 27 active cases among their staff.
The Centre and Littoral regions remain the most affected and the situation in schools and universities remains worrying. 186 over 190 health districts are affected by the pandemic.
The support provided by UNDP in the acquisition of 25 ambulances and medical equipment is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) “no regret” approach, which aims to strengthen the health system in a sustainable and comprehensive manner. This delivery is part of an agreement of $27.44 million signed between the Government of Cameroon and the Islamic Development Bank, to provide immediate assistance to COVID-19 affected communities through the provision of vital medical and non-medical equipment including scanners, respiratory equipment, ambulances, mobile radios for communication, etc.
Following a review conducted by the Ministry of Public Health (MoH) with COVID-19 response actors at Kribi, in the South region, WHO advised to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccination process, redouble vigilance through surveillance, active case detection, enhanced case management and to ensure the compliance with barrier measures. WHO also recommended to enhance capacity building and continuity of care, and to better integrate the fight against COVID-19 into national disease surveillance and control systems.
In the Coordination meeting of the Incident Management System (IMS), chaired by the Minister of Public Health, that was held in the Littoral region on 27 February, the Resident Representatives of WHO and UNICEF, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Health recommended to reinforce the barrier measures in hospitals to avoid contamination of medical staff and front-liners who are assisting patients.
In March, authorities announced the upcoming arrival of COVID-19 vaccines. The operation, which is part of the COVAX Global Access Facility, will be launched nationwide, and will initially allow the administration of one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health workers, people over 50 years old with comorbidities and existing conditions, vulnerable people and teachers, are priority targets. The vaccine will also be made available to special groups and the general public after the priority groups have been vaccinated. The MoH reiterated that the vaccine will be free and administrated on a voluntary basis.
Gaps & constraints
The MoH has conducted a lesson learned exercise on the COVID-19 response, which revealed the following gaps in the COVID-19 response:
- Lack of sensitization on stress management and side effects related to COVID-19 vaccination.
- Lack of medical ambulances and vehicles.
- Lack of oxygen supply centers in the regions