Public Health authorities have said the South Africa variant of COVID-19, also known as 501Y.V2, is currently circulating in Cameroon.
Dr. Shalom NDOULA, Permanent Secretary of Expanded Program on Immunization in the Ministry of Public Health says “A sample has showed that the variant from South Africa, is circulating in Cameroon, although the proportion is very low, 5-10%” .
Since January 2021, infections have unusually surged in different parts of Cameroon. The Public Health Minister recently reported that almost 10,000 positive cases were recorded between January and February.
As of March 5, 38,988 confirmed cases were on record. Speaking on national television on March 11, Dr. Manaouda Malachie said 3000 persons test positive for the virus in Cameroon weekly . In the country’s regions, figures which were before now recorded weekly are now recorded on a daily basis. He says the infection rates are still very high. The recovery rate has gone down to 92%, bed occupancy rate is 12.7% from 5% and severity rate has gone up to 1.5%.
Is South African variant responsible for upsurge of infections?
Although the South African strain of COVID-19 has made its way into Cameroon, Public Health authorities say the variant is not directly responsible for the increase of infections.
Dr. Shalom NDOULA, Permanent Secretary of Expanded Program on Immunization in the Ministry of Public Health says “The South African variant has nothing to do with the rise in infections. A total disregard for preventive measures is the cause of increasing numbers of infections “.
The health expert explains that , “A lot of people respected preventive measures against the virus during the first wave of infections, and when measures were eased, everyone went back to normal life. It took about three months, for infections to surge this much. During most pandemics, the confirmed cases could increase till the situation gets out of control”.
Notwithstanding , the South African virus is said to be more infective, and can cause more severe forms of the disease. 501Y.V2 is just as virulent as the previous virus, SARS-CoV-2.
Cameroon’s second wave of infections is more serious than the first. But health experts insist that the strict respect of preventive measures is the surest way to eradicate the disease.
Kathy Neba Sina