Bernadette Mebe Ngo’o Stigmatised in Kondengui after COVID-19 Treatment

On May 21st, news broke out that Bernadette Mebe, the wife to former government official and defense minister, Edgar Alain Mebe Ngoh had been released and would remain under house arrest.

Reports say she was diagnosed of typhoid fever on April 21st 2020. The doctors also said she had presented some COVID-19 symptoms.

She was later rushed to the Yaounde Central Hospital on April 25, and declared COVID-19 positive.

Mrs Mebe was reportedly declared treated two weeks later but was confined for 14 days in the same place where she had received treatment, leaving her exposed to the risk of reinfection.

The explanation given by hospital authorities, reports say, was that they had run out of space to allow her confined in a different place. With her next appointment set for today May 22nd hospital staff tried to discourage penitentiary authorities from returning her to the prison to no avail. “They tried to explain to prison guards that the you never bring a person previously infected with COVID-19 back to their center of contamination, especially since the Yaounde central prison is known for being an active center of COVID-19” says a source.

He adds that she was physically and verbally abused upon arrival at the prison, as she was ordered to observe social distancing from other prisoners, something impossible given the nature and living conditions of inmates.

“She is thus stigmatized both by the other prisoners and by the prison authorities. She was forced to sleep in the open.”

Calling the treatment inhumane, many have criticised the action saying it poses the problem of the human dignity of detainees in Cameroonian prisons and violates the principle of the presumption of innocence which Bernadette Mebe still enjoys.

It is worth noting that President Biya made a call for an end to stigmatisation in his May 19th speech. Addressing the nation over the pandemic, he said there is need for action to end the stigma towards all COVID-19 patients.

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