Cross River Doctors Begin Strike Over State’s Refusal To Acknowledge COVID-19 Cases

Following the alleged refusal by the Governor Ben Ayade-led government to acknowledge the five positive cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) recently detected in the state, doctors in Cross Rivers State have embacked on a strike.

The strike action was conveyed by state’s chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in a letter written to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Sunday.

The strike action is coming barely 24 hours after the Committee of Health Professionals in the state called on the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to review the state government’s claims on COVID-19 testing.

The committee whose membership include the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) had accused the Cross River government of not sending COVID-19 samples collected in the state for testing.

The group had also accused the Ayade administration of putting the lives of doctors in the state at risk by refusing to acknowledge the existence of the virus in the state.

The Cross River NMA chairman, Agam Ayuk, in the letter addressed to the health minister, said: “The Association demands explanation from NCDC, why the five (5) COVID-19 confirmed cases from UCTH carried out at the NCDC accredited Molecular Laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State have not reflected in the daily situation report of NCDC long after results had been transmitted to UCTH since July 1, 2020. Congress demands update of the NCDC situation report as a matter of urgent public health interest.

“Congress demands explanations from NCDC, why epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River State Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by UCTH to an NCDC approved Molecular Laboratory can be published by NCDC despite having approved UCTH as an independent Test Centre.

“The NCDC is put on notice that the Cross River State Government has abdicated her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment and care for the five (5) confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in publication of the results by NCDC.

“The members of the Association and residents of Cross River State have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by NCDC.

“Congress demands explanation from NCDC why despite several complaints of compromised testing in the State, investigations have not commenced on the unethical activities carried out by Cross River State COVID-19 Task Force.”

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