The Cross River State Government has accused the Federal Government of not providing her with enough sample collection test kits for COVID-19
The state ministry of health alleged it could not provide the needed number of COVID-19 tests because of the lack of testing kit samples.
Addressing a press conference in Calabar on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Health Dr. Betta Edu, who is also the Chairman of the COVID-19 response team lamented the attitude of the Federal Government towards the State.
She said “Upon all that we have done in the State to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not have one recommendation from the Federal Government or NCDC Boss to say that the State started on time, you have done well, the country should emulate what we are doing and replicate same across the country, that has not happened.
“With 50 sample collection kits, for a population of 4.5m, how many tests do you want Dr. Betta Edu and Cross River State Government to produce in the week? These things are not available and yet you want us to embark on sample collection and send them to Irua or Ebonyi.
“For us as a State and with the limited number of test kits we have, we decided that only people who meet the criteria sent to the State from NCDC will be tested. The pressure is becoming too much and unnecessary. We were asked not to use locally available swap sample collection kits which we have but rather we should use the one sent to us
“We were told we were not testing enough and that is why we have not found a case. Due to pressure, we tested somebody who has not met the criteria last September, no fever, no cough, nothing else, no difficulty in breathing and she has a family history of Asthmatic”.
Dr. Edu said that the State has cried out to the Federal Government for support and she has yet to receive anything at all, “We received only 50 sample collection kits, 200 PPE and four body bags and four boots from the federal government” she regretted.
“We have struggled on our own to ensure that the State is COVID-19 free. FG should isolate states that have done well during this period, support them in the way that they required, everybody does not need a ventilator, I don’t have a case now and I do not need it
“What I need as an emergency is to keep my border shut so that the over 50, 000 Cameroonians that are trying to get into the state can be stopped. What I need is money to pay the surveillance officers who will go round and look for cases around.
“And what I need are sample kits for us to get samples in their numbers as they have asked for, we need support from the Federal Government to produce more face masks, we should be treated differently, no state is one.
“Yet we heard all states in Nigeria must have COIVD-19 and it is almost becoming a battle to ensure that whether true or not, all States in Nigeria have COIVD-19. It is possible to have a state without COVID-19 and others around it have, so it is not compulsory that every states in Nigeria should have COVID-19”
The Commissioner noted that the State is one of the two states that is COVID-19 free, “We should be commended rather than accused. We set up an emergency operating centre and we brought together specialists in the medical field, scientists, military, para-military and indeed the who is who as it would concern preserving and protecting our dear people from COVID-19.
“We discussed how to improve sensitization, how to engage community leaders, chiefs, traditional rulers, religious leaders. We went all out for sensitization at a time when no other state in Nigeria was carrying out sensitization for coronavirus. At that point,
“Our instinct was Lassa Fever which was killing people but we were carrying out sensitization both for coronavirus and Lassa fever then there was no case of COVID-19 in Africa and Nigeria. Cross River State remains the first state in Nigeria to screen people who came in through our local airport, at this time Nigeria had not recorded any single case of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“We screened people from China, South Africa and we tried to follow up on them for two weeks to see that they were not infected. Cross River State was the first state to say that its International and interstate borders be shut and for people to come in they must be screened.
“We also make it compulsory for no mask, no movement. These were policies we put on the table and followed them through. The virus does not move but the humans that are infected move, spreading it from one location to the other” she stated.