By Francis Tim Mbom

Henceforth, test samples from suspected Covid-19 patients in the Southwest Region shall no longer be taken to Yaounde for clinical analysis to determine whether the case concerned is either positive or negative.

The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Public Health, Halim Hayatou, was in the Southwest Region, Thursday, May 7, to inspect on-going works at the University of Buea Medical Research Laboratory and the Mutengene Baptist Hospital’s Centre for Disease Control Laboratory.

During an earlier COVID-19 evaluation meeting held on Tuesday, May 5, by the Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai, the Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr. Zacheus Nanje Ebongo, disclosed that there were experts from the Centre Pasteur Molecular Lab in Yaoundé currently working in the UB and Mutengene Labs to help ensure that these facilities are upgraded to be able to effectively analyse COVID-19 samples and give perfect clinical results.

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the Southwest Region had no lab that could carry out analysis on molecular viruses.

Thus all test samples had to be carried to Yaoundé for analysis. 

Dr Ebongo said that as soon as the UB and Mutengene facilities go operational in the days ahead, “test samples will no longer be carried from here to Yaounde.”

The Regional Delegate also pleaded with Halim Hayatou that the Southwest Region will need one more ambulance or special van that will be meant for the transportation of COVID-19 test samples. 

He disclosed that as at now, the Southwest has only one of these special vans.

He also said the COVID-19 isolation centre at the Middle Farms Stadium in Limbe needed to go operational. 

Meantime, concerning the cases of the disease registered so far in the Region, Dr Ebongo disclosed that 31 cases have been registered.

Of this number, 21 have been registered at the Regional Hospital in Limbe, eight in Buea and two in Kumba.

Of this number, he said three have died, and eight others have recovered.

He said 340 tests have been carried out, 280 results obtained, while 44 test results are still being awaited from Yaoundé.

“But for the past one week, the Region has not registered any new case.”

Meanwhile, Halim Hayatou thanked the Governor of the Region, the medical staffs and everyone who has been battling to keep the population safe from the virus.

He called on the population to continue to respect the measures that have been prescribed by the Government and the WHO as ways to contain the disease.

Meantime, at his Tuesday’s evaluation meeting, Governor Okalia Bilai, cautioned that the population should not misconstrue Government’s recent moves to relax some of the lockdown measures to mean that the virus is gone.

To him, the population must continue to put on their masks and continue to observe social distancing.

For those still refusing to put on their masks, Okalia ordered the police and gendarmes to arrest such a person and collect FCFA 6000 from that person.