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Cameroon City Makes Wearing Mask Mandatory in Fight Against Coronavirus

A worker sews surgical-type face masks to be used to curb transmission of the new coronavirus, at the New Dawn company in Kikuyu, north of Nairobi, in Kenya, April 4, 2020.

The mayor of one Cameroon city says wearing a mask will be mandatory to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus that has already infected 658 people across the country and nine others have died.

Roger Mbassa Ndine, mayor of the coastal city of Douala, made the announcement Monday as crews began fanning out across the city Monday to pass out washable masks, in a new awareness campaign that will take them to other boroughs in the coming days.

Nemache Celestin, a Douala teacher, welcomes the mayor's decision to make wearing a mask compulsory, saying "Cameroon and Africa do not have enough resources to deal with this pandemic." She said "everyone must do everything to protect us from the pandemic."

In recent days, police in Cameroon began arresting people who ignored measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite government warnings, officials say a majority of Cameroonians are not taking the coronavirus seriously, and authorities are taking steps to enforce social distancing rules.

President Sassou-Nguesso declared a state of health emergency, with a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am and everyone must stay at home, with the exception of people who provide essential services and goods.