The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River Chapter, has warned that the state may have entered the community state of transmission of coronavirus with the increasing reports of cases flu-like symptoms, respiratory challenges and loss of smell/taste in some hospitals in the state.
The Association which said this while calling on the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other stakeholders to critically appraise the COVID-19 status of the state in a statement.
The association in the a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Dr Agam Ayuk, and Secretary, Dr Ezoke Epoke, on Saturday in Calabar noted that such symptoms indicated potential community transmission of an undetected disease fitting the epidemiological pattern of COVID-19.
It added that the medical community believed that there was lack of evidence to ascertain the state’s actual COVID-19 status and disease burden due to low number of tests carried out.
“A recent research published in Nature Medicine in the U.K. revealed that loss of smell (anosmia) is a stronger predictor than fever for COVID-19, prompting recommendations of self-isolation if detected.
“We call on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 through the Ministry of Health and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, state government, and all stakeholders to critically appraise the COVID-19 status of Cross River.
“The COVID-19 infection curve is still on the rise and yet to peak in the country. Lack of adherence to infection prevention strategies such as social distancing, use of face mask, hand sanitiser at this crucial time is worrisome,” it said.
“The gross under-testing for COVID-19 in Cross River is a significant public health concern.
“The virus tests breakdown by states as at June 10, released by NCDC, revealed that the state has carried out only nine tests using its molecular laboratory.
“The association uses this medium to appeal to both the federal and state governments to expedite plans for accreditation of Dr Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital, Calabar, a Bio-Safety Level Three Laboratory and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital as testing centres for COVID-19,” it said.
The association said that accreditation of the centres would upscale testing and reduce the turnaround time for COVID-19 tests.
The association frowned at the state government’s plan to begin a trial resumption of three public schools in each of the state’s three senatorial districts, on June 16.
It said that the resumption of schools had the potential of significant disease outbreak among students.
It advocated adoption of technologies to provide remote learning opportunities for students in public schools, in the interim.
According to the NMA, the technology which is currently being used by private schools, should be encouraged until a national policy is introduced on resumption of schools.