The COVID-19 pandemic may have spread to Cross River as the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital on Friday, July 3, reported five cases.
According to an internal memo by the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Ikpeme Ikpeme; five samples sent from the hospital for testing returned positive for COVID-19.
Equally important, a copy of the leaked memo was sighted by 1st News.
Ikpeme disclosed that the tests were conducted in a laboratory approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State.
He further confirmed that two of the samples came from the health workers in the Teaching Hospital; adding that the workers were making “tremendous progress along the path of recovery”.
Ikpeme said the Cross River State government has been informed on the development.
The Cross River government, before now, had insisted there was no case of confirmed coronavirus in the state.
“We wish to reassure our staff and patients that a positive COVID-19 test is neither a death sentence; nor a reason for any type of fear or stigmatisation,” the UCTH said.
“As stated above, our medical personnel have recovered. We urge all our staff and patients to abide by all the guidelines on hand and respiratory hygiene; as advised by the state and federal government through their various agencies, especially the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
“There is absolutely no reason for panic.
“As an institution of government, the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital will continue to provide information and guidance; and take steps to protect our staff, patients and the community we serve,” the hospital said.
However, the state commissioner of information, Asu Okang, dismissed the hospital’s memo as “desperate attempts by mischief makers to ensure that the state records a case of COVID-19”.
“No hospital is empowered to announce cases of a pandemic in the country asides the NCDC. So if a hospital uses one test kit and say we have COVID-19 does not mean anything,” Mr Okang explained to the press on Friday.
“The point is that the NCDC is the body required to reflect cases of COVID-19 and announce it to members of the public. Not one small lab technician trying to assert their egos and hatch their mischief on the grounds of what they think and their state of mind could through an internal memo.
“Like you said it is an internal memo so if it becomes an external memo we would respond to the teaching hospital. For now, we want to believe it’s an internal memo and we will treat it as such,” he noted.