WE ARE PUBLISHING HERE BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY THE SPECIAL STATEMENT OF 05/0/2021, BY THE PRIME MINISTER, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT, ON THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE STRATEGY AGAINST THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC (COVID-19).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by saying that this statement is in compliance with the instructions of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA. As you are probably aware, within the framework of the implementation of Government’s response strategy, on 17 March 2020, the Head of State issued a series of restrictive measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our country. Although these restrictions were stringent, they were beneficial. The actions implemented by Government helped to curb the spread of the pandemic in our country and to save lives.
To ease patient care, isolation units for COVID-19 infected persons and specialised treatment centres were opened. The control of the pandemic led the President of the Republic to decide on a gradual easing of certain restrictive measures. As a result, on 30 April 2020, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities were allowed to remain open after 6 p.m. Pupils and students in examination classes, in primary and secondary education, as well as university students, learners in vocational centres and professional schools were able to resume in-person classes from 1 June 2020.
This decision enabled them to complete the 2019-2020 school and academic year, and to continue their training for the current 2020-2021 year. Moreover, considering the effects of this pandemic on the national economic and social fabric, the Head of State decided to grant facilities to companies in difficulty and to the most modest households. The application of these measures helped to lay the groundwork for our economic recovery and to regain a certain social balance in the face of this harmful disease.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Despite the efforts made to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our country, there has been a resurgence of the pandemic in many of our cities in recent weeks. Updated statistics show that 34 thousand 887 patients have already been cured of this disease since it first appeared in our country. However, in the space of one week, more than three thousand (3,000) new cases were recorded, bringing the overall number of people testing positive for COVID-19 to 38 thousand 988. Over the same period, 37 patients died as a result of this disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 588.
There is every reason to believe that the deterioration in the epidemiological situation that we are observing today is largely due to the laxity in the application of safety measures and to the failure to comply with the restrictive measures taken on 17 March 2020, some of which are still in force.
Indeed, a very large majority of our compatriots gather carelessly in public or private spaces, disregarding the rules of social distancing, and without taking into account the limit of 50 people for any gathering.
Many no longer even wear masks, which is compulsory in all public places.
Some even continue to think that COVID-19 is a pure invention, or that it exists only in other countries.
Such behaviour is irresponsible and favours the spread of the virus, especially at a time when many variants have been discovered in certain countries.
This disease is real. It continues to wreak havoc among our loved ones, and strikes brutally at people with co-morbidity.
In this context, Government has an obligation to protect each and every one of its citizens, despite the reluctance or denial of the reality of this disease by some of our compatriots.
I therefore seize this opportunity to remind everyone that the measures taken on 17 March 2020, which were not expressly lifted by the President of the Republic, are, and remain in force.
- the prohibition of gatherings of more than fifty (50) people throughout the national territory;
- working remotely and using electronic means of communication as much as possible, especially for the organisation of meetings, where social distancing cannot be observed;
- the suspension of missions abroad for members of Government and public and para-public sector agents, except in the case of express derogation;
- the systematic wearing of masks in all public places and respect for social distancing. Considering the significant increase in the number of cases of contamination and in order to ensure the effective application of the measures already enacted: Administrative authorities have just been instructed by the Minister of Territorial Administration to ensure, within the framework of their administrative police missions, that hand washing or the use of hand sanitizers is reinstated at the entrance of all establishments open to the public, including places of worship. The Ministers in charge of Education and the Minister of Trade would also ensure the application of this measure, respectively in schools and universities, as well as in shopping centres. Safety measures must be complied with in all circumstances and in all places, including in open markets and meeting places, such as bus stations, taxi and motorbike pick-up points, as well as in public transport.
I would like to stress that access to any establishment open to the public will henceforth be subject to the wearing of a mask.
- Also, screening at air, sea and land borders have been stepped up to reduce the risk of importing variants of COVID-19.
- Large gatherings and risky behaviour are prohibited.
I particularly insist on the imperative need to rigorously respect the limit of fifty (50) persons as well as safety measures, during meetings, ceremonies, events and other official or private celebrations, especially when these meetings take place in closed places, in order to avoid the emergence of clusters.
We must not lose sight of the fact that each individual protects himself and others.
With a view to strengthening our prevention mechanism, the Government, on the instructions of the Head of State, has taken steps with partner organisations to acquire vaccines against COVID-19.
More than one million doses of the vaccine will be available in the very near future.
Once these vaccines become available, a vaccination plan shall be set up, and vaccination shall be voluntary.
I would like to note that although vaccination is voluntary and not compulsory, the Government encourages all Cameroonians to be vaccinated when the time comes, in order to acquire the immunity that will enable our community to protect itself against COVID-19 for a return to normalcy.
While waiting for the outcome of on-going steps, personal disciplines, as well as the strengthening of individual and collective prevention measures, are the most effective means of halting the spread of this disease in our country and preserving the lives of our fellow citizens.
I therefore invite all of us to mobilise in solidarity, especially community relays such as religious and traditional authorities, opinion leaders, political leaders, associations and trade unions:
- let us all observe the directives of the Head of State concerning the fight against COVID-19;
- let us work together to fight this pandemic that disrupts our social balance and the realisation of our development projects;
- let us rise and bar the way to the spread of this disease:
- by respecting basic hygiene rules;
- by systematically wearing our masks in all public places;
- by respecting social distancing as much as possible;
- and avoiding popular gatherings.
This is a collective requirement, but also, and above all, a civic duty which transcends our personal, religious or philosophical beliefs.
The Head of State His Excellency Paul Biya delivered an important address to the Nation on the eve of the 48th edition of our National Day, which address has been published in its entirety below.
Fellow Cameroonians, My dear compatriots,
I usually do not address you on the eve of our National Day. Traditionally, this is an occasion to celebrate, with joy, our national unity as well as our republican and democratic values.
Today, the context is different. Cameroon, like most countries in the world, has been affected by COVID-19. Our health system is mobilized to combat this terrible disease. Various measures have been taken to stem the spread of the disease as announced by the Prime Minister. It is necessary to scrupulously follow all the instructions that have been issued (wearing of face masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing). This is crucial for the health of everyone.
Under these circumstances, it was not possible to maintain the festivities marking the celebration of our National Day due to the gatherings it entails. Of course, it was with some reluctance that I took this decision. However, since my main concern is to preserve the health of my fellow compatriots, there was no room for hesitation.
Most of you have understood that it is necessary to put aside political squabbles and adopt a common front in the face of the insidious danger posed by COVID-19. Some political leaders who do not belong to the ruling majority shared this view. I thank them for that.
We have also had the pleasure of receiving assistance and encouragement from friendly countries, international organizations, national and foreign business leaders, as well as various personalities such as Mr Jack MA of the Alibaba Foundation. I wish to thank them here and now on your behalf.
My dear compatriots,
The first thing I would like to tell you today is not to panic and not to believe in fake news conveyed especially by social media. Admittedly, this is a daunting challenge. However, we can meet it together as we did in many other circumstances.
I also want you to know that the Government, at my behest, is doing its utmost to bail us out of this serious health crisis.
As I have said, protective measures have already been taken to counter the spread of COVID-19 in our territory.
Despite these efforts, the number of infected persons keeps increasing daily, thus indicating that the fight against this pandemic is complex and difficult. I therefore call on each and every one of you to get involved. Each of us must comply with the measures that have been taken. This is one of the conditions for us to achieve the desired victory against the virus.
I strongly urge all political, religious and opinion leaders, all officials of associations, all traditional rulers and all dignitaries to fully participate in the fight against COVID-19. Of course, this should be done within the framework defined by the Government and in compliance with the laws and regulations of the Republic.
My dear compatriots,
I would now avail myself of this opportunity to extend my sympathy to the families that have lost loved ones to this terrible disease. I extend my heartfelt encouragement to patients admitted to our hospitals and wish them a speedy recovery. I also call on those who have tested positive to strictly adhere to the rules of confinement.
I also wish to hail the courage of Cameroonian health professionals and those assisting them. With the resources available to us, they are doing the utmost to treat those infected with the disease. Indeed, they are not giving up in the face of the gravity of COVID-19 infection. The Nation, through me, congratulates and urges them to keep it up.
As you are aware, following the outbreak of the pandemic in our country, a Special National Solidarity Fund to Fight the Coronavirus has been set up, in addition to the protective measures I have already mentioned. I have taken measures, within the limits of existing resources, to ensure its initial replenishment with the sum of one billion CFA francs. Additional resources could be provided depending on changing needs on the ground.
I take this opportunity to congratulate our fellow citizens who have already made contributions. I call on those who can, to do same. National solidarity so requires.
In our current struggle, the Government will go to great lengths to combat any manipulation or exploitation of this tragedy for political, economic or social ends.
My dear compatriots,
I would now like to draw your attention to the economic consequences of this health crisis.
Today, we are facing new challenges resulting from the collapse of stock markets, falling commodity prices and an unexpected sharp decline in trade. The coronavirus pandemic will therefore have a negative impact on the global economy as well as our economy.
Of course, we will have to return subsequently to the path of growth, while ensuring that jobs are preserved as
much as possible during this period of uncertainty and difficulty.
I urge the Government to continue to be mobilized as it has been doing since the outbreak of this health crisis. In an unprecedented social context, it should, in particular, be resourceful and inventive to maintain our financial balances, contain the rate of inflation, ensure the continuity of public service, especially in the education sector, and regulate economic activity so as to safeguard social stability and peace.
On the health front, despite the increase in the number of people tested positive for the coronavirus, the situation can be brought under control. We will therefore spare no effort to check the spread of the virus and reduce the mortality rate resulting from the pandemic.
The global health crisis triggered by COVID-19 will undoubtedly mark a turning point in the functioning of our society. It requires that we continue to strengthen our health facilities, scale up our healthcare services and, above all, update some of our development projects and programmes.
On another note, in the face of this ordeal, our health system must be more efficient. The other diseases affecting Cameroonians just as much must not be neglected. The same should apply to the routine immunization programme. That is why specialized COVID-19 treatment centres have been set up in Yaounde and Douala. Others are being established in regional and divisional headquarters.
My dear compatriots,
Before concluding, I think it is necessary to briefly review the protective measures put in place to stem the
spread of the coronavirus. Most have already been implemented and are certainly contributing to slowing down the spread of the pandemic.
However, in view of developments in the health situation and the effects of COVID-19 on our economic and social life, it was necessary to make some readjustments. I therefore instructed the Prime Minister, who had already made two statements on the issue, to announce new measures and adapt others already being implemented. This was done on 30 April with all the necessary clarity.
I would like to specify the spirit of the 19 measures taken late last month without revisiting the details. The aim was basically to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the national economy and the life of the most fragile households. The encouraging lessons learnt from our COVID-19 response strategy enabled us to take relief and support measures for the economic sectors and persons most affected by the pandemic.
These measures seek, among other things, to:
- ease social life and the movement of persons;
- suspend the payment of some taxes, dues and contributions;
- support ailing businesses; and
- increase the amount of family allowances and some retirement benefits.
It goes without saying that these relief measures do not exempt us from complying with “barrier gestures”, particularly the wearing of face masks in public places as well as the ban on public gatherings, aimed at checking the spread of the pandemic.
I therefore call on Cameroonians to have trust in public authorities. The Government is fully aware of the
gravity of the situation and is prepared to take all necessary measures. I can already state that:
- as soon as a treatment is found, steps will be taken to put it at the disposal of our fellow citizens; before that,
- the wearing of face masks in public places will be mandatory until further notice.
To that end, the local industry should continue to engage in the manufacture of face masks and alcohol-based solutions in strict compliance with Government and WHO prescribed standards.
I know I can once again count on your patriotic spirit, your sense of responsibility and your courage to enable us to collectively overcome this scourge that is affecting the entire planet. In this connection, we should avoid stigmatizing those suffering from the disease. Everyone must feel concerned and contribute their quota to the fight against the spread of the virus. We should bear in mind that negligence by a single individual can seriously harm the entire community. We should therefore not be complacent.
Fellow Cameroonians, My dear compatriots,
You have certainly understood that we need to make a lot of efforts to fight COVID-19 that may pose a threat to the stability of our states.
During this difficult period, we must remain a united, supportive and disciplined people.
I therefore appeal for a kind of “united front” of all the vital forces of the Nation against the coronavirus pandemic. In that connection, I commend, once again, the
attitude of virtually all political leaders and religious authorities who have accepted to join in this national struggle. I also encourage all efforts geared towards developing an endogenous cure for COVID-19. Let us channel all our energies towards fighting this common enemy.
Long live the Republic!
Long live Cameroon!
A Communique issued by the Minister of State Secretary General in the Presidency of the Republic has cancelled public celebrations of 2020 editions of the Labour Day and National Day. Below is the release published in full.
Cameroonian citizens settled or residing abroad shall be entered on the registers of electors opened at diplomatic representations and consular posts in their countries of residence or attachment.
They must enjoy their civic and political rights and fulfill all the required legal conditions to be an elector.