The Nigeria Medical Association,NMA, in Cross Rivers State has raised an alarm over the increasing suspected COVID-19 deaths in the state.
Cross Rivers is one of the two states yet to record any COVID-19 case in the country.
The NMA however in a statement doubted the stance of the state government that there is no COVID-19 case(s) in the state.
In a statement by its Chairman, Dr Agam Ayuk, and Secretary, Dr Ezoke Epoke, on Friday, the association said a breakdown of coronavirus testing in states as of May 17 as released in the COVID-19 situation report on May 18 revealed that Cross River had carried out only seven tests.
According to them, the development has confirmed the position of the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, 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 the disease burden”.
The NMA said, “The unacceptable low number of persons tested in Cross River suggests a lack of diligent, expansive and coordinated surveillance response which is the hallmark of effective prevention and containment of COVID-19.
“We appeal for an expansion of the surveillance unit with the provision of more field staff, 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 spread.”
It added, “The NMA has received several reports of delayed response by the State Surveillance and Epidemiology unit to call for patients’ review and samples collection.
“In some cases, delays have led to a post-mortem samples collection. We call for rapid response and urgent transport of samples within 24 hours of the collection with a daily situation report 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 case being a health worker.”
The body said seven out of the eight samples collected so far were from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
The association said, “We call on the state COVID-19 task force to create a transparent system for tracking of samples from the point of collection to the testing centre to restore confidence in the eventual results reported.
“The Cross River Government currently has no listed NCDC designated Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre in progress or completed in the NCDC Molecular Laboratory Network.
“We use this medium to call on the NCDC to change the testing centre of Cross River from Irrua in Edo State to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
“We implore the state COVID-19 task force to expedite plans in collaboration with the NCDC to fully accredit Dr Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a Bio-Safety level three laboratory, and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for COVID-19 testing.”
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