The Mechanism set up by the government to effectively respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic is a- four-stage process that begins at the airport.
Cameroon’s response mechanism for the Coronavirus is coordinated by the Cameroon Public Health Emergency and Operations Centre-PHEOC .
Dr. Ngomba Armelle Viviane, Chief of service of the department for the Preparation and Response to outbreak at the Public Health Ministry details the process.
The four stages are;
# Surveillance and Screening
# Rapid and In-depth Investigation
# Rapid Laboratory Test
# The Curative Treatment Approach
The expert explains that surveillance is carried out at two stages; personal and medical .
surveillance and screening
Surveillance is carried out by individuals and health personnel. It plays a vital role in the response process . But individual surveillance is key to identifying a suspected case.
Dr. Ngomba Armelle Viviane says a suspected case is “a person who presents with a fever and flu-like symptoms like cough, respiratory problems, flu, tiredness, and has traveled to a different country or has been in contact with a person presenting symptoms of the virus “.
Individual surveillance goes alongside the surveillance carried out by health experts. At this stage, all persons who enlist as health personnel, are expected to rigorously check for symptoms of the virus in the population.
At airports and borders, two devices are used for temperature checks ;
1) Thermal Camera
Both devices can identify someone who has got a fever or whose body temperature exceeds 38degree Celsius , from a distance.
Passengers are also expected to provide personal details on the screening notice. The expert highlights the importance for all passengers to fill the forms.
” The process of filling the screening notice takes time, but we encourage people to be patient. We understand that at this time, most of them are returning from a long and tiring journey. Nonetheless, filling the form is good for everyone”.
Rapid and In-depth Investigation
When suspected cases will have been identified and isolated, the Rapid Intervention Battalion of the Public Health Ministry will proceed with quick and in-depth investigation of the patient’s health status .
However, this happens if the patient has tested positive for the virus.
The teams now begin the search for contacts of the patient , with the help of the screening forms.
Rapid Laboratory Test
While in isolation, samples of the suspected case are taken to the laboratory for a Rapid test. In Cameroon, suspected cases of the Coronavirus are tested by the Centre Pasteur. The test results are generally known within a period of twenty-four hours. Suspected cases are tested free of charge.
The Curative Treatment Approach
This is the last stage of the response mechanism which comes after the laboratory test results are known. With regards to the Curative treatment, Dr. Ngomba Armelle Viviane says
” The approach for treating the Coronavirus is symptomatic. We treat the symptoms of the virus. It is the same way flu is treated. There is no standard treatment for flu, and it is same for the Coronavirus . But if the patients has existing diseases, we also treat them. The Coronavirus is treated free of charge”.
Treatments for the virus runs for 14 days. But in the 14th day, a control test will tell whether the patient is free from the virus.
Persons who feel they are experiencing symptoms of the virus are advised to call the emergency numbers, and not go to the hospital . Four numbers open to the public are;
#677 89 93 69
#677 89 43 64
#677 89 76 44
#677 90 01 57
When a call is made to any of these numbers, the expert at the reception identifies the caller with the help of key details including, age, health status, country they came from, and the symptoms they are experiencing .
The health expert says calling the emergency numbers is absolutely important .
” The call is important because it permits the team to know if you are a high risk case. This will help them
decide whether to come to your house for proper investigation or not. These experts are better protected, and will educate your family and disinfect your house in case a positive case is identified “.
Since the outbreak of the Pandemic, the Ministry of Health has designed special programs to educate the public on the disease. Health experts regularly emphasize on preventive practices and what suspected cases should do. Communication is ongoing on all media platforms with the sum of bringing current feedback to the public. The experts also use the occasion to preach against the stigmatization of Coronavirus patients.
Kathy Neba Sina