Cameroon reopens schools despite Covid-19 death spike
CAPE TOWN - Cameroon's government has opened schools despite a rise in the country’s Covid-19 related deaths.
Cameroon recorded the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths on Monday compared with other central African countries, according to data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The Africa CDC figures show that there were 197 deaths in Cameroon, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 72 while Chad had 65, Congo Republic had 20, Gabon had 17 and Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe each recorded 12.
Hundreds of thousands of students returned to classes at school and universities on Monday, which had been suspended since March 18 to curb coronavirus transmissions.
Cameroon has so far recorded 6,380 confirmed cases of the virus. The United Nations Children’s Fund has delivered hygiene and protective material to help the country fight the spread of Covid-19 in schools.
Officials said the increasing number of recoveries from the virus and health measures taken at schools made them confident that they could contain the pandemic, the Voice of America reported.
Speaking on Cameroon state television on Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said President Paul Biya had ordered schools to reopen because 3,630 of the 6, 380 Covid-19 patients in the country had recovered from the deadly virus, which he said showed the government's strategy to protect citizens was yielding positive results.
But trade unions in the education sector and Catholic church leaders last week opposed the reopening plan, saying it would expose students and teachers to the virus.
In a petition to Ngute, some 19 trade unions, including the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union and the Teachers' Association of Cameroon urged the government to suspend the reopening of schools and only evaluate students on work already covered this year.