Cross River State on Sunday recorded 20 cases of COVID-19 infection, the highest so far in the state.
Prior to this, the state has remained at the bottom of the table since the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Nigeria.
The total number of confirmed cases in the state is now 189 as of January 24, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The Commissioner for Health in Cross River State, Betta Edu, said the recent high cases in the state was because of corps members who came in for their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.
“We had people who came in from the NYSC, about 13 of them were positive cases. So, these are people who moved into our state from other states.
“The other ones are people who are residents in the state,” Mrs Edu told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday.
“However, it clearly shows that the second wave of the COVID-19 is here on us, so people need to improve on their level of adherence to all the COVID-19 protocols.
“It is also a call for the federal government to see that they can immediately come in and help Cross River State fix their lab so that we can do community sampling and testing and really have a true picture of what might be going on in communities, as we already do know that community spread is taking place,” she added.
Cross River, before now, had two laboratories for COVID-19 testing – Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Reference Lab and another one at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
Mrs Edu said the Lawrence Henshaw lab, which had the capacity to test large samples, was vandalised and looted in October by hoodlums, as a fallout of the #EndSARS protest.
She said this has consequently slowed down testing in the state.
“The COVID-19 testing is almost coming to a halt (in Cross River),” the health commissioner said.
“The only place we have now is the little lab in the UCTH that can just do only about four samples in hours. They don’t work 24 hours shift and they don’t work during the weekends. So when we have that kind of situation, it (testing) is almost coming to a halt,” she said.
Cross River State, she said, may not be able to meet a new national target that would be rolled out by February where each state is expected to bring in 550 samples per local government area in two weeks for COVID-19 testing.
She appealed to the federal government, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the NCDC, and the Coalition Against COVID-19 to support the state in fixing the vandalised isolation centres and laboratory.
“We had to quickly create a new isolation centre at Obubra General Hospital that can take at least 15 people in there because of the 13 corps members who have tested positive.
“The one that can take up to 10 persons in Okoja is still there and the UCTH that has just four rooms,” the commissioner said.
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