Thursday, 30 April 2020

Covid-19: C/River health boss replies DG of NCDC over incident of pandemic, calls for support

30 April 2020

The Honourable Commissioner for Health in Cross River State, Dr Betta Edu, has replied DG of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, over comments credited to him in the media three days ago where he was reported to have said that the four remaining states in Nigeria including Cross River, which have not recorded COVID-19 cases cannot hide it.

According to the state health boss, who insisted that it is not compulsory to have Covid-19 case in a state despite the fact that others already have, it is amazing that persons at sundry cadre will insist that Cross River should have a case of infection. While demonstrating the possibility of an adjoining state/country having high incidents of infection with the pandemic and another not being infected, Dr Edu disclosed that the test kits sent to the State from the Federal Government are not enough. 

She called on the cessation of unnecessary mounting of pressure. Her words, 'It's amazing and indeed mind-troubling that persons at different levels will continue to insist that Cross River State must have a case. In all that has happened over time, we have not one commendation from the Federal Government or NCDC boss to say, Cross River State you started on time, you've done well and the country should emulate what you are doing and replicate same across the country, that has not happened. Yet, you hear, all states in Nigeria must have Covid-19. And it's almost becoming a battle to ensure, whether true or not, all states in Nigeria have Covid-19.

'It's possible to have a state without Covid-19 and others around it have. Look at Africa, I'm sure most of us know about Lesotho, and we know about South Africa, they are all in the southern part of Africa: one has one of the highest number of cases in Africa, the other doesn't have. And I can go on and on and on, Czech Republic is in Europe, it's the same Europe where France, Italy, UK, name it, have people dying in their thousands. But in Czech Republic it's not the same thing. So, it's not compulsory, and I'll put it very clearly that it's not compulsory that every state in Nigeria should have Covid-19. The pressure from all parties is becoming too much and unnecessary', she said. 

While disclosing that the state received only 50 sample collection kits, 200 PPEs and 4 body-bags asked with what kits should she comb a 4.5 million population for testing. 

Her words, 'We were told we're not testing enough, and that's why probably, we've not found a case. The total amount of sample collection kits sent from the Federal Government to Cross River State is fifty, it's fifty sample collection kits for a population of 4.5 million. And we were asked not to use the locally available swap sample collection kits which we have but rather, we should use the ones given to us from the Federal Government. And my question which I want to put to them this morning is simple: with fifty sample collection kits for a population of 4.5 million, how many tests do you want Betta Edu and Cross River State to produce in a week?

'My colleagues in other states have raised concerns at different points that they have exhausted their sample collection kits and name it. Look at what is going on in Kano? These things are not available. And yet you want us to embark on community sample collection to send to Irruah or Ebonyi. Irruah is the only South South lab which takes twenty four hours to go there, and another twenty four hours for your results to come out. 

'For us as a state, with the limited number that we have, we've decided that only people who meet the criteria sent to Cross River from NCDC that will be tested. If you do not meet the criteria, we will not test you'.

So, for the Cross River State Government, CRSG, sub-national entities can exist without an incident of infection. Nigeria should therefore understudy Cross River. The state government has asked the federal government to urgently support her with security on the international borders especially with Cameron and the interstate border. Set up a vaccine producing facility in the state, send more sample test kits, set up test centres for the state, and reduce the pressure on the state. 

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