Inability of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to come up with a categorical statement regarding the COVID-19 status of Cross River state after the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) in its internal memo, claimed it confirmed five positive cases may have generated more controversies.
The NCDC, which announced 454 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, did not also include the ones UCTH claimed it confirmed. The Cross River state government has always insisted that there are no confirmed cases of the virus within its territory.
UCTH internal memo signed by its Chief Medical Director, Prof Ikpeme Ikpeme, had said COVID-19 tests performed on five samples from the hospital returned positive.
“Two of these samples came from our medical staff. These staff have since made tremendous progress along the path of recovery and are doing well. The tests were performed using the PCR Technique at the NCDC Accredited Laboratory located at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. Management has duly informed the Cross River state government and other agencies of government,” it stated.
In a reaction, the state Commissioner of Information, Asu Okang, dismissed the UCTH memo, and described it as “desperate attempts by mischief makers to ensure that the state records a case of COVID-19,” insisting that to the best of his knowledge, the state remained COVID-19 free.
In a telephone chat, Okang said: “No hospital is empowered to announce cases of pandemic in the country aside from the NCDC. If a hospital uses one test kit and says, ‘look, we have COVID-19.’ it does not mean anything.”
With the lack of official response from the NCDC, the COVID-19 Central Working Committee of Health Professionals in the state, at the weekend, demanded that the Presidential Task Force, through the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC should investigate COVID-19 testing claims and results tendered so far in the state.
In a press statement signed by the chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association in Cross River, Dr. Agam E. Ayuk and secretary, Dennis Ekpo, the health professionals called on the federal government to hold all those responsible for compromising testing in the state responsible
The group also demanded explanations on the whereabouts of over 25 samples it alleged was collected, stressing that the NCDC records only showed eight (8) samples from Cross River underwent PCR tests.