BY: Anietie Akpan and Tina Todo
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is to establish coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratories in Cross River State.
Federal Government’s seven-man team led by Dr. Omobolanle Oluwu made this known on Monday during its visit to the Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital (also called Infectious Disease Hospital) in Calabar, the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) and the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, Otu V.
Olowu stressed the need for the state to have more people tested to avoid having the virus when other states might have been free of it.
She explained that though the state already had a Polymerase Chain Reaction Medical (PCRM) test centre that needed upgrading to test for COVID-19, adding that when the team earlier visited the Obong, he was also worried that the state did not have enough test centres.
“We are happy that the Obong of Calabar gave us audience. He is particularly worried that they don’t have enough test centres and we are going to take this back to the minister, so that one or two will be set up in the state because we noticed that not much of testing is taking place here; the only NCDC staff that was here and did all the trainings in collaboration with the state was reportedly withdrawn.
“We went to the reference lab, and there is still need for more support from the Federal Government. That is very certain because what exists now needs to be upgraded to be able to test for COVID-19. The PCRM there can do 93 blood samples at a time, but it is still being used for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). That is where NCDC will have to come in to see how they can upgrade it to test for COVID-19,” she said.
According to her, it is a concern to everybody in the country how no case has been reported from the state.
While appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to assist UCTH in equipping its isolation centre that has only four beds and one ventilator, she commended Governor Ben Ayade and the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Beta Edu, for setting up a 100-bed Adiabor Isolation Centre, which was equipped by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
Her words, “It is something commendable by the state in preparation for any eventuality and we have seen that they already have ventilators, oxygen concentrators, 70 beds for male and 30 beds for female because from the trend of what we have seen, males are more infected, and all the states have taken it to consideration.”
She, however, advised the state to create an isolation centre that would accommodate Very Important Persons (VIPs) in the state, noting that no elite would want to be exposed in an open isolation centre like what was on the ground.