COVID-19 : An insight into the rigorous screening process

Screening for the Coronavirus is a rigorous process both for health workers and suspected cases, beginning from the airport to the laboratory.

At the airport, health workers regularly carry out temperature checks with the help of a Thermal Camera and a Thermoflash.

These health workers are usually on the lookout for persons whose body temperature exceeds 38 degrees celcius.

Unfortunately, most persons who have been infected may show no signs of the disease and would eventually go unnoticed.

Health experts explain that the Coronavirus incubates for 14days. During this time, no symptoms of the disease develop, and may likely not be noticed .

However, persons who present symptoms of the COVID-19 ; runny nostrils, fever, dry cough and sometimes breathing difficulties are immediately confined .

Samples are taken to the laboratory where it would be proven whether they caught the virus or are suffering from a seasonal cold.

All persons arriving the country are required to provide detailed personal information on screening forms.

Three key details required are name, departure country, and contact.

When Symptoms Show Up

If these persons later start experiencing symptoms of the disease, they are expected to call the emergency .

Five  toll free numbers are open to the public ;

#677 89 93 69
#677 89 43 64
#677 89 76 44
#677 90 01 57

After the call, another specialized set of health workers known as the Public Health Rapid Intervention Battalion-BIR will swing into action.

Dr. Ngomba Armelle Viviane, Chief of service of the Department of Outbreak and Response at the Public Health Ministry says the Health BIR are health workers who most often come in  contact with  infected persons.

” When a call is made to the emergency, the Health BIR teams go around to collect samples from cases confined in hotels or homes. The samples are taken to the laboratory for screening free of charge”.

The Throat Swab

The method of collecting samples for COVID-19 screening is known as a throat swab.

Dr . Linda Esso, says a throat Swab is “taking samples from the back of the throat and from both nostrils using a kind of cotton swab, suitable for the examination”.

All samples are sent to the reference laboratory for Central Africa; the Cameroon Centre Pasteur.

Within 24 hours, the results will be made public and Health BIR teams will move the confirmed cases to COVID-19 treatment centers .

But before collecting the sample, the following questions are asked.

Are you coughing?
Are you running a temperature?
Do you have a fever?
Have you a known ailment?
What do you think about COVID-19?

Hastening The Screening Process

Given the huge numbers of persons who have come in from other countries recently, some suspected cases have to wait for many days before being screened.

Most of them say waiting is as stressful as having to deal with fears of being declared positive for COVID-19.

To hasten the procedure, Public Health authorities set up a special Sampling Centre at the Yaounde Multipurpose Sports Complex on March 20, 2020.

Samples are simultaneously collected at the Multipurpose Sports Complex, in hotels and some homes for onward transmission to the laboratory.

Kathy Neba Sina

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