United State Government on Tuesday through her Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard joined Executive Governor Benedict Ayade to virtually commission an upgraded Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for Cross River State, which has been equipped with support of the American people to track and control the spread of the deadly COVID-19.  Cross River is the first of nine states to receive the EOC upgrade. The commissioned EOC comes with a new call center. The EOC is coordinating the Statewide public health response to the COVID-19 outbreak and other diseases of public health concerns.

Commissioning the Centre virtually, United State Ambassador to Nigeria,  Mary Beth Leonard commended the state government on several measures been instituted to curtail the spread of the disease and protect the health of Cross Riverians. She said the upgraded centers are now equipped as operational digital situation and communication rooms that power and coordinate the state COVID response and other disease outbreaks, utilizing data integration, warehousing, and visualization to provide state officials transparent and real-time information on COVID-19.

“With the commissioning of these EOCs, Nigeria can better coordinate the COVID-19 outbreak response and surveillance activities, as well as any other emergent disease outbreaks or disasters,” Ambassador Leonard said.  “They will help turn the tide of the pandemic within their state, ultimately the nation, and flatten the COVID-19 curve.”

Speaking virtual from the Governor’s Office in Calabar, Cross River State Deputy Governor, Prof Ivara Ejemot Esu said “Though Cross River continues to have no documented cases, we need to be on our guard to do even more to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic is brought to a speedy end or controlled to the best of our ability in Nigeria.  “We want seize this opportunity to continually invite USAID to come to cross river and strengthen our health system.  We really appreciate this support”.

The DG NCDC Dr Chikwe Ihekwazu, thanked The US Government for the support and pledged continued support to Cross River state who he said must be at the drivers seat and take full responsibility for the health of its people. He commended the state and asked for sustainability of the Upgraded EOC.

Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu thanked the US government for the support. She said the state is working closely with NCDC through the deployment of national Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) to support response activities in the state. She said the EOC has a situation room and a call centre where staff are on 24 hours standby to receive calls from the public and track data/ information on COVID19. She thanked the US Government for their intervention stating that Cross River State will appreciate more support to strengthen the health system to address not just COVID-19 but any other outbreak in future.

She stated that the emergency operations center will serve as a central point of contact for public health activities and data collection including tracking of suspected cases in a consistent manner with up-to-date information shared among federal, state and local partners as well as with the public.

Dr. Douglas Chukwu, Cross River State team lead for USAID partner Jhpiego, conducted a virtual tour of the new Emergency Operations Center for U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard and Cross River Deputy Governor Ivara Esu, DG NCDC and the Commissioner for Health.

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