COVID-19: MLSCN Berates Cross River state Govt

…calls on residents of the state to adhere to NCDC regulations

Oru Leonard

The Cross River State Branch of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (MLSCN), has berated the Cross
River State Government in Nigeria on the allegation that the Federal Ministry of Health is planning to import COVID-19 into Cross River State.
The MLSCN statement which was released to the media recently commenting on viral video where Honourable Commissioner for Information is seen alleging that the Federal Ministry of Health is planning to import COVID-19 into Cross River State, through a planned COVID-19 training at the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Calabar.
“We consider this a serious allegation with grave implications being that it is coming from the Official Image-maker and mouth piece of the State Government. The allegation is capable of throwing spanners in the works in the efforts to increase testing for COVID-19 and fight against the pandemic. As Professionals, we have a responsibility to inform the public without bias and/or prejudice.
“We are aware that the NCDC National Testing Strategy has 4 prongs as elucidated in the document: ‘National Strategy to Scale up Access to Coronavirus Disease Testing in Nigeria’, published on April 15, 2020. Prongs 1 and 2 have been achieved and no Laboratory in Cross River State was included. Prong 3 involves “The re-purposing of point-of-care Tuberculosis Testing GeneXpert Laboratories for COVID-19 testing”. The target is to re-purpose one GeneXpert Laboratory in each of the 36 States and FCT and is expected to increase the country’s testing capacity by 1,300 tests per day.” MLSCN said.
Explaining further that the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital Calabar, was selected in Cross River State by NCDC and National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, for Prong 3 of the National Testing Strategy.
“The purported hands-on training is part of capacity development in preparation for possible activation of the project. These capacity development activities should not and cannot translate to importing of COVID-19 into Cross River State”, it explained.
It added that so far, there are 37 approved Laboratories, in the NCDC Laboratory Network, spread across different States of the Federation, and trainings were conducted for Medical laboratory personnel before they were activated.
The importation of COVID-19 as a result of these trainings may not possible because they are usually conducted in controlled environments. “Why should the case of Cross River State be different?” MLSCN asked.
On Testing of COVID-19 in Cross River State the body noted that the level of COVID-19 testing in Cross River State is abysmally low and of serious concern. Explaining Records from NCDC indicate that, as at 10th June 2020, only 9 COVID-19 screening tests had been conducted for the State and that the disparity between number of samples collected and actual test performed raises more questions than answers.  On the other hand, the State has conducted test using RDT Kits, as reported in the CRS COVID-19 update.

The Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN), in May 2020 said it made public its validation of COVID-19 RDT Kits in Nigeria, noting that the gold standard for testing for COVID-19 remains RT-PCR, for now and appealed to the COVID-19 State Task Force, and by extension, Cross River State Ministry of Health, to stop risking the lives of Citizens, by screening for Coronavirus using non-validated and non-certified test kits.

MLSCN further noted that the observed general laxity on the public is because of the state government’s attitude towards Covid-19.
“We have observed an increased laxity among members of the public towards adherence to personal safety guidelines as advocated by the NCDC. This may be due, largely, to the continuous bombarding of the public psyche with zero status of the State by various Agents of Government. We are calling on  all residents of the State, to take responsibility for their health by ensuring that they comply with the  NCDC guidelines of use of face mask, conscious physical and social distancing,  general and  personal hygiene, including regular washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers.” It lamented.

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