In an interview on the state broadcaster Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), Yaounde’s administrative officer, Jean Claude Tsila, said: “We were reliably informed that some persons confined to some hotels in Yaounde due to the coronavirus pandemic were receiving prostitutes inside their rooms.”

According to Daily Nation, the prostitutes make at least $30 a night. The sex workers approach travellers from Europe to offer their services despite the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Tsila said the “smuggling of prostitutes” into hotel rooms is a “legendary act of indiscipline”. He added that security around the hotels hosting potentially infected people have been beefed up.

He also stated that prostitutes who would be seen on the streets of the capital, Yaounde, would be arrested and charged with spreading the deadly virus. Those arrested may face prison terms of up to three years and a fine.

Cameroon recorded its first COVID-19 case on February 6. The number of confirmed cases has increased to 92, as of Saturday, and two people have died.

The Cameroonian government has put measures in place to stop the spread. These include the closure of all its borders, suspension of the issuance of visas into the country. Schools have also been closed, with calls on Muslims and Christians to limit their numbers in worship houses and pray at home instead.

However, most businesses have been affected by these directives since they are out of business currently. These include commercial sex workers.

A week ago sex workers in South Africa called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to add them to the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme because they have been affected financially by the spread of the virus.

“In emergency situations such as these, they cannot claim for any financial aid from the government during times when they cannot work. Since the outbreak, sex workers have recorded a drastic decrease of their clientele, which has put many of them in dire financial strains that further pushes them to the margins and exposes them to risky sexual behaviour and violence,” a joint statement by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and the National Movement of Sex Workers, Sisonke said.

“We would like to remind the president that, during this adversity that we find ourselves in, it is important to listen to the vulnerable and respect the wishes of sex workers in South Africa and heed their call for the decriminalisation of sex work. The criminalisation of sex work excludes sex workers from accessing basic human rights, including labour rights.”