BY: George Odok
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the deadly coronavirus pandemic will get to all the 36 states in Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the Director-General of the agency, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, while speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Daily programme on April 16.
He explained said: “COVID-19 is on a much larger scale – at the moment, but it will grow to every state in Nigeria, there is no reason why it won’t – it is a respiratory virus.”
Cross River, an an innocent child of tourism is surrounded with the virus from all sides by Benue (1 confirmed case), Ebonyi (1 confirmed case), Abia (2 confirmed cases), Akwa Ibom (12 confirmed cases), and Cameroon (1,705 confirmed cases).
To prevent the spread of the virus, NCDC had given out safety measures to include social distancing, not touching the face, eyes or mouth, washing of hands with soap for 20 seconds or use of alcohol based hand sanitizers.
In view of the above, the state government ordered for mass production of cloth masks to be distributed across the state, insisting that those who violate the order will be arrested while motorists carrying passengers without the masks were to pay a fine of N300,000 before their vehicles would be released to them.
The order from the state government followed an inauguration of the taskforce team to mount all land and marine borders in the state to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, the taskforce team was dismantled by the Governor and thereafter, the chief were asked to mobilise their youths and other Vigilante groups to police the borders.
Stakeholders in the state had commended the governor for the “no masks no movement policy”, while a large percentage of Crossriverians in some remote villages were yet to get the mask.
Now, with Cross River been surrounded by states with the virus, how effective are the men manning the borders to prevent movements into the state without compromise?
According to eyewitnesses account, the borders have become so porous that with N2,000, a vehicle is allowed entry into Calabar from the Itu bridge end of the boundary between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states; while at the other end of Gakem in Bekwarra, the land entry fee is N1,000.
Cases of compromise such as these, opens the state to the pandemic which is deadly. At this point where the state is the only “QUEEN” at the centre without a case of Covid-19, there’s a need for a total shutdown of all borders with a sincerity of purpose.
The state should adequately fund the men at the forefront of these borders with a view to keep them off gratification by motorists. If the borders are left wide open, then Cross River State should no longer boast of been Covid-19 free.
Also, the DG NCDC and National Coordinator of the PTF had said that states that were COVID-19 free have sent less than 10 samples each.
Are these state, including Cross River, deliberately avoiding sending samples? With a critical look at the high spread of the virus, there is no gainsaying that no state will be spared eventually.
The Cross River State Epidemiologist frequently delay for more than 24 hours when she is called to take samples, this is according to a top medical source.
The source said: “There are two reasons. She is either not conversant with the job, not being a public health expert as she should be or she is on orders to avoid testing”.
There is nothing wrong in testing all suspected cases of respiratory tract disease. It is even better because that way you can rule out Covid-19 and be sure you are dealing with bacterial pneumonia. If you don’t test enough, you cannot win the war.
Gladly, Cross River State is still Covid-19 free, yes, the state can remain Covid-19 free until the virus is totally defeated if strict measures are adhere to without compromise.
The treatment of viral infections is symptomatic. So it is not rocket science. It is known that if Covid-19 is detected early, the chances of recovery are higher.
Recently, the state government is now setting up an isolation centre at the Tinapa resort, while this is commendable, stakeholders want the state government to strengthen its border security, maintain the set guidelines on social distance and large gatherings and the compulsory use of face masks.