NCDC SET TO BUILD A NEW MOLECULAR REFERENCE LAB FOR CROSS RIVER AS TWO INMATES TEST POSITIVE TO COVID-19

The Government of Sen Ben Ayade has made great efforts to see that health institutions affected during the #ENDSARS protest which was later hijacked by hoodlums; do not lead to complete collapse of health services in those facilities in the state. As part of the recovery moves, the Commissioner for Health and National Chairman of Nigeria Health Commissioners forum who also doubles as the Chairman COVID-19 Taskforce Dr Betta Edu met with the Director General of NCDC Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu to discuss ways in which NCDC could support the state to rebuild.

Affected during the crises was the Reference Laboratory at Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Hospital Calabar (IDH) which was completely vandalized and looted with people stealing active samples for HIV, TB and even COVID-19. This unacceptable act has since 24 October 2020, denied Cross River of having one of the best reference labs in the country. Presently there is no reference Lab for testing of TB samples, HIV samples and COVID-19 samples in IDH Calabar as the Gene Xpert machines, PCR machines Cartridges, biosafety cabinets, autoclaves and incinerators were stolen or vandalized. The TB Ward was also completely looted and vandalized, however the state has swung into action to restore the TB wards for active patients.

The NCDC Boss condemned the act in clear terms, sympathized with the state and asked that the state Government should not be deterred but see this as an opportunity to work with partners and Federal Government to get a bigger and better Reference Lab for the state. He said a team will be dispatched immediately to the state and he might come in if need be to asses the level of damage, while NCDC will support the state to immediately get a new reference Laboratory running to meet the urgent demand in the state. He promised that NCDC will continue to work with the state to prevent any out break of disease in the state. The Health Commissioner thanked him and his team at NCDC for the continuous support to the state, promising that the state will do all possible to get all affected health facilities running again with their support and that of other Development partners.

It will be recalled that the state had set up two Isolation centers and donated PPEs to the Calabar Correctional service. The state also set up a sample collection and testing Mechanism to help restore back the justice system so inmates can be admitted into the facility in calabar after almost 6 months of not admitting inmates due to COVID-19.

All new inmates are tested and Isolated till their results are out before they are allowed into the general facility. Two of the new inmates who were to be accepted in tested positive although asymptotic, they have been isolated at the new Isolation center in the facility till the test negative and will be allowed to mingle with others in the general cell.

Contact tracing is ongoing and no other confirmed case has been identified so far.

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