Five cases of coronavirus have been reported in Cross River State by the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
Five samples sent for from the hospital for testing returned positive for COVID-19, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Ikpeme Ikpeme, said on Friday in an internal memo to the staff of the hospital.
Mr Ikpeme, a medical doctor, said the tests were conducted in a laboratory approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State.
Two of the samples came from the health workers in the UCTH, Mr Ikpeme said, adding that the workers were making “tremendous progress along the path of recovery”.
Mr 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.
The Commissioner for Health in Cross River, Betta Edu did not respond to calls seeking comment on the development.
Meanwhile, 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 pandemic in the country asides the NCDC. So if a hospital uses one test kit and say we have COVID19 does not mean anything,” Mr Okang told PREMIUM TIMES Friday afternoon via phone.
“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.
No response from NCDC
This is the second time within a week that the Calabar federal teaching hospital is reporting positive cases of COVID-19. Yet, NCDC officials are yet to officially respond to the claim.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how the UCTH exposed a COVID-19 case in Cross Rivers in an internal memo last Friday saying a patient tested positive to the virus in the facility.
The hospital management said it informed the NCDC of the development which added a new twist to the controversy trailing the COVID-19 free status of Cross Rivers State.
Calls and text messages to Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC executive director, were not answered on Friday.
Nigeria has reported 27, 110 cases of the virus in all states across the country except Cross Rivers.