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May 22, 20206min860

 

Cross River State has only tested seven people for coronavirus, Medical association says

The Nigerian Medical Association, Cross River State Chapter has said the state has only tested seven people for coronavirus in the state.

The medical association warned that such state of laxity and unpreparedness was a recipe for epidemic in the state even as it pointed out that results of the samples have not been made known several weeks later.

“The COVID-19 testing breakdown by State” as “released in the COVID-19 situation report” revealed that “Cross River State has carried out only seven (7) tests,” Dr. Agam Ayuk and Ezoke Epoke said in a statement they signed for the group as State Chairman and State Secretary respectively.

“This figure is very worrisome leading to the affirmation by the Director-General of NCDC that; ‘no matter how intensive preventive measures are, there is no way to assess a State’s success or failure in managing COVID-19 without more testing to estimate disease burden’.

“The unacceptable low number of persons tested in Cross River State suggests a lack of diligent, expansive and coordinated surveillance response which is the hallmark for effective prevention and containment of COVID-19.

“We appeal for an expansion of the surveillance unit with the provision of more field staff, utility vehicles, ICT/technical support to enable this vital unit to carry out the critical role of early case finding for testing and isolation of confirmed cases to limit community transmission.”

The group further noted that “seven (7) out of the eight (8) samples collected so far are from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar (UCTH).

“Many questions are begging for answers; Is it only UCTH that has patients that meet the criteria for sample collection?

“What happened to patients who may have visited the various Primary Health Care Facilities, General Hospitals and Private Hospitals across the State that may have satisfied the criteria for testing?

“Very worrisome is the fact that most members of the medical community are currently expressing concerns if the samples collected are the samples sent to NCDC.

“We call on the State COVID-19 task force to create a transparent system for tracking of samples from the point of collection to Testing Centre to restore confidence on the eventual results reported.”

According to the Association, Cross River State Government currently has no listed NCDC designated Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre in progress or completed on the NCDC Molecular Laboratory Network.

“To make matters worse, the NCDC Laboratory catchment for coronavirus testing for Cross River State is at Irrua, Edo State. Irrua is about 447.9km (7h 50min) from Calabar when compared to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State another testing centre that is 188.9km (3h 17min) from Calabar which also shares a boundary with Cross River State.

“The present situation makes sample transportation very expensive and cumbersome occasioned by restrictions in interstate movement.

“We use this medium to call on NCDC to change the testing centre of Cross River State from Irrua to Abakaliki.

“We once again implore the State COVID-19 task force to expedite plans in collaboration with NCDC to fully accredit Dr Lawrence Memorial Hospital which is a Bio-Safety Level Three (BSL-3) laboratory and UCTH, Calabar for COVID-19 testing.”

The Association noted with concern reports it as received showing “delayed response by the State Surveillance and Epidemiology unit to calls for patient review and sample collection. In some cases, delays have led to a post-mortem sample collection.

“We call for rapid response and urgent transportation of samples within 24hours of the collection with daily situation report (SITREP) made available to the public to avoid fake news and allay fears and anxiety.

“The quick response time has become more imperative due to the rising number of deaths from suspected cases in the State, the most recent being a health worker.”

The Group further said face mask observance enforcement was oh taking place in few places, nothing that “the enforcement of this policy is predominantly in Calabar among motorists and passengers of motor vehicles. “At the same time, pedestrians are allowed to move freely either without face masks or the face masks hanging around the neck.

“We advocate for continuous and aggressive engagements and buy-in of various unions and associations like the Market, Automobile dealers and Road Transport unions to activate their internal mechanisms to enforce government policies.”

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