Cameroon: Churches – Social Distancing At Its Best, But…

Efforts are being made to respect Covid-19 barrier measures in prayer houses. But some Christians still think otherwise.

10:00 am. It is a Sunday at the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Church in Yaounde. Multitudes of Christians are making their way into the church building. At the entrance of the church is one of the ushers with a bottle of hand sanitizer. He is not only pouring hand sanitizer on the hands of each Christian entering the church, but also ensuring that each person is wearing a face mask. Those who are not wearing a face mask are prevented from the entrance. Such is amongst the measures taken by various church leaders to ensure that Christians respect the Covid-19 barrier measures put in place by the government and the World Health Organisation.

While inside the Etoug-Ebe Baptist Church, one can count the number of Christians wearing the face masks they were obliged to wear before entering the church. From all indications, many Christians wore a face mask because they needed access into the church. There are those who said they cannot wear a face mask while singing and dancing in church. As such, the face mask became a chin mask or for the hand bag.

The situation seems not different at a Pentecostal church around the Etoug-Ebe neighbourhood in Yaounde. At the entrance to the church is a bucket of water meant for Christians to wash their hands. But from a glance, one can count the number of Christians who take time to wash their hands. A majority of Christians do not wash their hands. The wearing of a face mask is rare amongst those seen in church. One can count the number of Christians wearing a face mask. Amongst the close to 50 people seen in church, not up to five were wearing a face mask. But a majority had a face mask in their bags. Physical distancing is respected as chairs are placed one metre apart from each other. But this is a difficult equation to apply because during singing, dancing and the welcoming of guests, Christians did not hesitate to embrace and shake hands with each other. One of the congregants, Emmanuel Tanjong told Cameroon Tribune that it is difficult to respect all barrier measures in worship grounds. However, he uses his personal initiative in making sure that he does not shake hands with other brethrens. Emmanuel Tanjong says it is time for believers to shun fanaticism, accept that Covid-19 exists and do everything to respect measures put in place by authorities to curb the spread of the virus.