Still imposed on passengers arriving in Cameroon, PCR tests are singled out by the Cameroonian Supreme Court, which sees financial irregularities in them.
Throughout the Covid-19 health crisis, screening tests have been at the heart of discussions. During the first half of 2021, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) had estimated that the prices of PCR tests were too high and asked for a reduction and standardization of the prices of PCR tests.
If the objective was then to limit these tests to 30 CFA francs, the heads of state of UEMOA had indicated that they wanted to lower the prices of these tests to 000 CFA francs in airports, 25 FCFA for travelers using land routes. After long weeks, Niger and Togo ended up accepting the request from ECOWAS and UEMOA, after the deadline. But one country had refused to comply: Benin.
Two years later, no African country imposes PCR tests. Or almost. Because the financial windfall represented by these tests, Cameroon does not seem ready to give up on it: in the corridors of Yaoundé-Nsimalen international airport, PCR tests are still carried out, while passengers must already present a negative PCR test before taking off or proof of vaccination.
Why do the Cameroonian authorities continue to impose a test on arrival? According to the Ministry of Health, this would be a recommendation from the Scientific Council for Public Health Emergencies. Hard to believe. However, Cameroon wants to continue to believe that the tests will protect the country from a return of Covid-19. The proof: several tests have been positive in recent weeks.
The fact remains that the maintenance of entry tests is, in theory, over: the Ministry of Transport decided, in the summer of 2020, that it was up to the airlines to “ensure that each passenger has their result of negative PCR screening test dating back less than three days, before boarding for Cameroon, in case screening with the said test is possible in the country of departure”. A test on arrival was then imposed on passengers who did not have the required document.
While Cameroon has already been confronted with a big scandal of embezzlement of billions of CFA francs - the "Covidgate" -, these tests are also pinned down by the Supreme Court, which demands that the country review its health policy. Especially since many tests purchased by Cameroon are in fact not approved. The Court suspects overbilling, in particular by the company Mediline Medical Cameroon SA.