The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) said a patient has tested positive to coronavirus in the facility despite the fact that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has not announced any confirmed case of COVID-19 in the South-South state.
The hospital management said it has already informed the NCDC of the recent development which added a new twist to the controversy trailing the COVID-19 free status of Cross Rivers State.
On Thursday, the NCDC announced 594 newly confirmed cases bringing to 22, 614, the total number of infections in all states across the country except Cross Rivers.
“With recent developments, it does appear that the state (Cross Rivers) may not be free of COVID-19 as generally believed,” an internal hospital memo exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES said. “A recent rapid test carried out on a patient came out positive. However, the patient had recovered and was discharged from our isolation centre last week.”
According to the memo dated June 25 and directed to all department units, staff and patients of UCTH by the hospital’s chief medical director, Ikpeme Ikpeme, “henceforth there will be strict entry and exit protocols into our facilities in furtherance to steps taking to protect staff and patients against the virus.”
This is coming few weeks after PREMIUM TIMES reported how the lawmaker representing the Obudu State constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly, Godwin Akwaji, died of fever and other COVID-19 symptoms at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Isolation centre.
Authorities in Cross River have continued to claim that the state is COVID-19 free despite been surrounded by states with confirmed cases, alleging that there is a plot to ensure the state records a case.
Last week, the state government accused the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health of shipping positive and negative test kits and cartridges to the Nigeria Navy Reference Hospital in Calabar, to violate the state’s COVID-19 free status.
Meanwhile, health authorities and federal officials who believe the government in Cross Rivers is discouraging tests for people with symptoms of COVID-19 are disputing the state’s free status.
“There is enough anecdotal evidence to support the belief that cases of the COVID-19 disease exist in the (Cross River) State,” Efik Leadership Foundation said recently in a letter it wrote to Muhammadu Buhari, requesting the Nigerian President to intervene in the matter.
The group said the Cross River government has been “rejecting” COVID-19 testing in the state.
In the internal memo, the UCTH management said the NCDC has approved the hospital as an independent isolation centre.
Mr Ikpeme, the hospital CMD said the implication of this is that henceforth “we do not need to pass samples through the epidemiology unit of the state as was the case before.
“The hospital can now send samples directly to NCDC accredited laboratories while the NCDC works to help set up and accredit our laboratory. We therefore urge everybody to honestly do the needful to ensure that our community is protected from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The hospital Management also urged staff and patients to protect themselves as maximally as possible.
Calls and texts Friday morning to Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC executive director, on seeking to know if the agency has duly been notified of the recent development and how it would respond were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
BELOW IS THE FULL MEMO BY THE HOSPITAL
University of Calabar Teaching Hospital
P. M. B 1278
From: Chief Medical Director
To: Heads of Departments/Units, Staff and Patients
Date: June 25th 2020.
UCTH STAFF HEALTH ADVISORY: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The Management of the University of Calabar teaching hospital is aware of the agitation and uncertainties associated with coronavirus pandemic in the state. With recent developments, it does appear that the state may not be free of COVID-19 as generally believed. A recent rapid test carried out on a patient came out positive. However, the patient had recovered and was discharged from our isolation centre last week.
Management, therefore, urges staff and patients to protect themselves as maximally as possible. This is however without prejudice that health caregivers must make themselves available at all times to provide adequate treatment to patients without fear. Management, on the other hand, will do everything possible to ensure staff and patients are adequately protected in line with NCDC guidelines.
The UHC management has been in direct contact with the NCDC director and the NCDC has approved the hospital as an independent centre. the implication of this is that henceforth we do need to pass samples through the epidemiology unit of the state as was the case before. The hospital can now send samples directly to NCDC accredited laboratories while the NCDC works to help to set up and accredit our laboratory. We, therefore, urge everybody to honestly do the needful to ensure that our community is protected from the coronavirus pandemic.
Prof. Ikpeme A. Ikpeme
Chief Medical Director.