Chamberlain Ntou’ou Ndong, Senior Divisional Officer for Meme Division in Cameroon’s South West Region said on Friday, “fake news” spread in Kumba from unknown individuals on the supposed vaccination of children against COVID-19 creating “general panic and fear amongst parents and students leading to the withdrawal of children from schools”.
The rumour immediately sparked furious panic withdrawal of children from schools in Kumba as the city saw chaos and frantic movements with residents fearing the worst.
Authorities attempted to calm the panic, asking for a stop in the spread of misinformation and stating that the state has launched any COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
“As a result, three students who jumped from a story building are seriously injured and presently receiving treatment at the Kumba District Hospital as instructed by the State representative,” said Ntou’ou Ndong.
The civil administrator proceeded to “vehemently condemn” the authors of the rumours and called on parents to stay calm and continue sending their children to school.
“Following consultation from the District Medical Officer (DMO) Kumba, no vaccine against COVID-19 has been authorized by the state of Cameroon to be administered to students,” said Senior Divisional Officer Ntou’ou Ndong.
“The Senior Divisional Officer for Meme counts on the sense of responsibility of all parents, reassuring them that those responsible for the fake news will be severely sanctioned according to the rules and regulations in force,” read a radio announcement signed by Ntou’ou Ndong.
While it is true that Cameroon already has its Vaccination Rollout Plan against Covid, it is worth noting that the best way to protect against the pandemic is prevention. The situation can spiral out of control at any time. Let us respect the barrier measures and wear our masks.
Following the incident, the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manaouda Malachie said vaccines have never been imposed on citizens. He said when the COVID-19 vaccines will be available, citizens will choose whether to be vaccinated or not.
“Government's responsibility is to make the vaccines available. If I am among the category of persons chosen by the scientific council to take the vaccines, it will be privileged," Minister Malachie tweeted.
“To those who continue to speculate, please note that the Covid situation may at any time get worse as a result of our actions. The occupancy rate of beds has increased from 0.5% to 5%. It is high time we respected the barrier measures and wore masks while waiting for the vaccine,” the Minister furthered. “As we can see, the situation is becoming worrying again. We must scrupulously respect the 13 measures laid out by the Head of State, which have not of course been repealed. Let's only go out when necessary and systematically wear our masks.”
As of February 18, 2021, Cameroon had recorded 33.749 positive cases of COVID-19 with 31,362 recoveries and 523 deaths. The country currently has 2,200 active cases of COVID-19 with 38 on oxygen.