The Cross River State government, through the Commissioner of Health, Dr Betta Edu and that of information, Mr. Asu Okang have accused the federal government of planning to import the dreaded Covid-19 into the state.

In a joint press briefing  on Thursday, Mr. Asu Okang, Information Commissioner said the Federal Ministry of Health, through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have concluded plans to import both negative and positive samples of Coronavirus into Cross River State for the training of health workers on the use of Gene-Xpert machines at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Calabar.
“The attention of Cross River State Government has been drawn to a purported training exercise that is to be embarked upon by the Nigerian Center for Tuberculosis as being aided by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control. In the last 24 hours we have been inundated with so many calls, text messages and worries by citizens of our dear state. It has become clear that as a responsible government under the leadership of His Excellency and proactive governor, Prof Ben Ayade, it is important that we respond to the issues surrounding the purported training of experts at the Nigerian Navy Hospital on the use of Gene-Xpert machines.

“Since the advent of Covid-19, Cross River State has remained in the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, gearing all efforts to ensure that our state does not record any case. I am also glad to announce to you that regardless of all the fruitless efforts by certain quarters to ensure that we are stigmatized or register a case of Covid-19, Cross River is still the only state in Nigeria that is Covid-19 free. This did not just happen, it took the proactiveness of His Excellency the Governor our leader to ensure that our state is insulated from this pandemic.

“We received a leaked memo that was written to the Nigerian Navy Hospital, Calabar informing them of Federal Ministry of Health’s intention to bring users of Gene-Xpert machines that have been lying fallowed. We wonder why the Federal Government at a time like this and in a state that has not recorded any case of Covid-19 pandemic is in a hurry to train people in Calabar on the use of the machines.

He said the state is not happy that the memo was sent to the management of the Nigerian Navy Hospital Calabar without prior notification to Cross River State Government through the Ministry of Health or the Commissioner for Health or the state epidemiologist is what we find worrisome.

“Don’t forget that the letter states that test kits, cartridges have been sent to the Navy Hospital Calabar to use for the training. This means that in the cause of training the trainees, they will have to see positive samples what they look like and negative test samples. What is the implication? That they will be importing positive test samples that would be shown to the trainees in the course of the training. This means that the Federal Ministry of Health, the NCDC and the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 have vowed to ensure that every state records the pandemic as they have already stated at some point.

“We are worried about this purported plan to ensure that positive test samples are sent to our state through the Nigerian Navy Hospital. We wonder what the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control is actually looking for in Cross River. It has become important that we bring this to the knowledge of Cross Riverians and members of the public.

“We are not surprise as a state that they choose the Nigerian Navy Hospital to collude with them on this wrongful agenda. These (Navy) are the same people that very recently… In fact, we are still in court with them. There’s an existing court order on the Nigerian Navy to stop work on the hotel that they are building just in front of the Governor’s Office in Calabar. We don’t understand why the Nigerian Navy has allow itself to be used as a weapon of oppression of Cross Riverians at a moment like this.

“We have the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital which is a federal medical facility, why didn’t they use it, but instead decided to use the Nigerian Navy Hospital which is a little more private by their operation.”, he said.

Explaining further on the implicaton the action, Dr Betta Edu, Commissioner of Health said according to the leaked memo, the positive and negative samples of Covid-19 would arrive the state prior to the training date.

She added that the state does not know how many number of positive and negative samples that are to be brought into the state, expressing worry that something could go amiss in the Covid-19 situation in the state.

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