Customs authorities recently announced the seizure of 6,072 Covid-19 test kits smuggled into the national territory via Douala International Airport. The operation, which took place on April 17, 2021, was carried out in the framework of Halcomi III, an operation designed to combat the circulation of contraband products.
The test kits were seized during a routine control. During the operation, the owner (a Cameroonian) was trying to smuggle the medical equipment he imported from a European country without prior approval from the Ministry of Public Health.
Currently, Cameroon is experiencing a shortage of Covid-19 test kits. In Yaoundé, several testing centers like that in Efoulan are out of stock. According to a customs official, this shortage has encouraged the fraudulent importation of these test kits. "Unfortunately we know neither their origin nor their manufacturing condition, so they are unfit for use," he said.
Also, it is worthy to note that with the coronavirus pandemic, health products’ smuggling has shot up. The seizure of contraband equipment like masks, hydro-alcohol gels, chloroquine have become a usual occurrence. Hence the implementation of the "Stop2" operation of the World Customs Organization (WCO) to secure the importation of medical equipment used in the fight against Covid-19.
Vanessa Ngono Atangana