Cameroonians have been celebrating ever since the country’s absentee president, Paul Biya, terminated a fake lockdown he imposed some four weeks ago.
As per the false lockdown, Cameroonians could go about their daily businesses in the afternoon as if the virus was not around or could not attack anybody during the day, but must return home before 6pm.
They were not allowed to sit in their bars to share a drink, but could soak themselves in alcohol at home with their families.
For Mr. Biya, a disciple of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, all life is predicated upon alcohol. He himself has been drinking for decades, passing off as a chemist to the point of ruining his health.
Cameroonians are currently committing suicide in their bars, with Mr. Biya and his corrupt and incompetent government officials watching from a distance the heartrending human tragedy that will reach its apogee in a fortnight.
Social distancing has been a huge part of the global health strategy aimed at overwhelming the Coronavirus that has left a trail of death and destruction across world.
Ending the lockdown is simply synonymous with making mincemeat of social distancing that has postponed death for many people across the globe.
With Mr. Biya declaring that Cameroonians can converge on many places and in large numbers, many health experts are already worried, with the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that a hasty termination of the ill-thought-out lockdown might trigger a storm of death and pain in many African countries, especially in Cameroon which is bereft of state-of-the-art health facilities that can cope with a tsunami of sick and desperate people.
Opening up an economy in the era of COVID-19 requires a risk adjustment approach to ensure that many people do not end up getting infected at the same time. This is unfortunately not the concern of the Yaounde government that is already staring down the barrel of an economic disaster.
Mr. Biya’s decision seems to be predicated upon fears that the country’s ailing economy could end up on a ventilator like most Coronavirus victims.
Many health experts have opined that the decision to urge Cameroonians to engage in their most favorite sport – drinking- is not based upon any known science.
Politics, the say, seems to be dictating things and this does not augur well for the elderly and other immune compromised individuals who might be killed by their own family members due to a government decree that cannot stand the test of sound scientific analysis.
A few days ago, Mr. Biya, the 87-year-old president, who has been hiding under his bed at the Unity Palace, signed another decree cancelling Labor Day and May 20 celebrations for fear of the Coronavirus which seems to have a bone to pick with old people, including Mr. Biya himself.
Many analysts are arguing that if it is too dangerous to celebrate May 20, which is the country’s national day, what therefore makes it safe to send millions of Cameroonians to bars and markets at a time when the virus is still illusive and very destructive.
If it is safe to send Cameroonians to bars, how come Cameroonian students are still being told to stay away from school? Students can sit in their classes with their masks, but revelers cannot wear masks while drinking.
Did the government take a look at all these details before sending its citizens to a place that could lead to mass infections?
With the lockdown over, sexual activities that have been on the decline, will now start rising again and the exchange of body fluids during bouts of sex could result in a resurgence of this virus that was still wreaking havoc in Cameroon before the decree to terminate the lockdown was issued.
Cameroon currently has a case count of more than 1,500, with more than 100 deaths. The country has not yet reached its peak, but the absentee and alcohol-inflammed president thinks that it is time to end the lockdown.
While Cameroonians have been celebrating their new found freedom to drink and even share the same bottles and glasses, they must understand that their destiny is in their hands as the government which is already cash-strapped is just seeking to guarantee that the breweries keep on paying taxes that will help sustain the corrupt and irresponsible government.
This is not the time to take our eyes off the ball. The virus is omnipresent and it has a huge appetite for recklessness people, especially those with underlying health issues.
Cameroonians must continue to comply with WHO guidelines to ensure that they do not transform their country into another USA that is currently grappling with huge case counts and large and scary numbers of death.
Cameroon lacks the health facilities and if the virus wants to punish the country for its recklessness, the toll will be unbearable.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai