Starting from the upcoming Monday, wearing a mask in public spaces in Cameroon shall be compulsory, according to a government order.
Mouhamed Amin Nsangou, 26, a student at the University of Yaounde I, did not wait for this decision before starting the production of masks.
Failing to find protective masks in quantity on the market, Nsangou and his university peers set up a workshop to manufacture masks with local fabrics.
“When our country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt we had to get involved in the fight,” he said. “We make the protective masks using 100 percent cotton fabrics found on the market.”
These masks, which sell for 1,000 CFA francs per piece (about 1.7 dollars), “are washable for many times, because many Cameroonians could not afford to buy masks all the time,” Nsangou said.
In addition to the masks, students majoring in biology and chemistry also produce hydro-alcoholic solutions, which are also rare in local market as more and more COVID-19 cases are reported.
“Thanks to the protocol made public by the World Health Organization (WHO), we get our raw materials on the market to produce hydro-alcoholic gels,” said Michel Pepouore Ngoundam, a student in industrial microbiology at the University of Yaounde I.
According to the students, so far, their initiatives have helped to provide about a hundred students with face masks and hydro-alcoholic gels.
The Cameroonian government is planning a massive local production of masks, hand gels, and other materials to fight the virus, according to the government decree making it mandatory to wear the mask.
According to the latest report from the country’s health authorities, as of April 11, Cameroon has reported 836 COVID-19 cases, making it one of the African countries worstly hit by the pandemic.