ECR returns home after Covid Travel Ban

10 Aug 2020

ECR returns home after Covid Travel Ban

In March Dr Zubaidah Ya'cob was working on the Gnatwork Community Call project in Cameroon when the news broke that international travel bans were activated amidst the height of the global Covid pandemic. It was immediately apparent that Dr Ya'cob and her husband, should try to return home before further restrictions would make that impossible, but as the work was not completed Dr Ya'cob decided to continue, even if they were unable to return at the end of May as planned.

Fortunately, they were in the Adamawe region which borders Nigeria and the Central African Republic, in a secure house in gated complex and with support the work could continue, but there were difficulties. "At the beginning of the pandemic there was some verbal harassment of white residents as there was local suspicion that they were carriers of the virus.  Another issue was access to cash as we only had enough for the anticipated length of our stay but this was resolved through the international banks."

Zubaidah's husband is a part-time chef and his creative cooking meant they both had a varied and healthy diet. He was also able to crush fly samples for DNA extraction so it was very much team effort! "We both missed family and we had to quarantine for 14 days when we returned home at the end of June. I'm happy with my decision though."

Dr Ya'cob would like to thank John Graham Brown, the PI on the project, along with co-researchers , Benjamine Makepeace, Catherine Pool and Germanus Bah, as well as local staff,  "Dr Okah and Tangwa helped me to buy phone credit, groceries every week. This really a sweet memory for me."   

The Gnatwork would also like to add our thanks to all those who gave their time and energy in support of Dr Ya'cob as the first Malaysian from University Malaya to enter Cameroon for research. We are glad that she and her husband return home safely and appreciate her tenacity in seeing through the work in Cameron to completion.