Cross River State has appealed for funding from the federal government to enable it to shut the borders with Nigeria’s neighbour, Cameroon, because of coronavirus.
There has been no confirmed case of coronavirus in Cross River State. Meanwhile, Cameroon has over 1,000 confirmed cases.
“We are at the Pre-COVID-19 state and we don’t have the same needs as other states. All state should not be treated same,” Betta Edu, the head of the Cross River State COVID-19 Response Taskforce, stated this on Sunday in Calabar, while briefing reporters.
“Our need, for the time being, is not a 300 bed Isolation center or 100 ventilators, what we need now is funding to completely shut our borders to Cameroon with over 1,000 cases and (other Nigerian) states that have recorded many cases.”
Mrs Edu, a medical doctor, is also the commissioner of health in Cross River State.
She said the Cross River State government is spending millions of naira daily at the borders – paying security task force, vigilante, community youth and others to run shift daily – to ensure people do not cross the borders into the state from Cameroon or other Nigerian states.
She said the cost and the burden of securing the borders is becoming too huge for Cross River and, therefore, there is an urgent need for the federal government to give the state some financial support.
She said Cross River is hiring 1,000 Health Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers to do active case search in communities. “The logistics for them to go round, their daily allowances and all of that has a huge cost on government and so we urgently need financial help,” she said.
Mrs Edu refuted media reports that Cross River State has received financial support from the federal government.
“I, as the state commissioner for health and also chairman of the COVID-19 Response Taskforce can boldly say that the state is yet to receive any support from NCDC or federal government,” she said.
“We are at a critical point, we are appealing to the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently support Cross River state financially.”
Mrs Edu said not everybody that sneezes is COVID-19 infected.
She spoke on the criteria for obtaining samples for COVID-19 testing. “There are laid down criteria and rules by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Federal Ministry of Health on who to take samples from.”
She said a suspected case earlier taken to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital has a history of respiratory distress and that she did not meet the criteria, but since health workers were worried they had to take the sample.
Mrs Edu commended the governor of Cross River, Ben Ayade, for the “sustainable palliative” measures against the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus, especially the plan to hire 8,000 youth into the state employ.
Mrs Edu said 2,000 persons, out of the 8,000, would be employed in the health sector to assist in surveillance.
“We will be recruiting 400 doctors, 600 nurses and 1,000 disease surveillance control officers who are expected to help in tackling Covid-19 and prevent community transmission,” she said.