Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has been urged to establish test centres in rural communities across the country to enhance sample collection.
Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu, the Fifth, the Obong of Calabar and Grand Patriarch of the Efik people, advocated for the test centres when a 7-man team lead by Dr Omobolanle Olowu of the Ministry of Information visited him.
The team was in Calabar on a fact-finding mission since Cross River remains one of the two states in Nigeria yet to record a single Coronavirus infection.
Otu, who received the team at his country home, commended Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for instituting time measures, which has saved millions of people from the coronavirus infection.
He stated, “The joy of it is that the President of this country stood up early enough and did the right thing setting up the committee and then letting the people know what was happening and the committee actually took off very well”.
“We are expecting to have at least three testing centres in this state taking into cognizance our location and spread. This will go a long way to help the state.”
Avoid Politicizing COVID-19
The Obong of Calabar urged the Nigerian and State governments to avoid politicizing the Coronavirus pandemic due to its seriousness and its overall global impact on humanity.
Edidem Ekpo Otu emphasized, “This Coronavirus is a pandemic that has actually shaken the world; it is just like a world war. So, I think this time around, the country should start being serious with our health facilities. We started well and at a point, it collapsed”
“We are supposed to have health centres in every community, but we began to politicised everything and politicize the health sector. We should function beyond party lines and get things done.”
He further commended the President for standing up to the COVID-19 pandemic ensuring that every part of the country is taken care of even though it is gradual.
“When you look at the financial state of this nation and then most of the States, you weep because not one state can tackle this problem without the support of the Nigerian Government,” the monarch added.
Earlier, Dr Omobolanle Olowu, the team leader explained that the seven members were in Cross River for what she called a scoping visit, which was to ascertain the measures, facilities and protocols on the ground to tackle any challenges that may arise.
Olowu said “Good enough we have not recorded anything in Cross River State, however, we have to be proactive. We are here to see what facilities you have prepared and visited the isolation centres. We are also here to see what has been done on surveillance, case contacts and see if there are gaps that need to be filled”.
The team lead further noted that they were happy on the training of over 400 medical personnel, the establishment of the reference laboratories and promised to intervene where needed.
Dr Betta Edu, the Cross River Commissioner for Health in a brief remark during the visit, appreciated the monarch for his fatherly advice and role in the successes recorded in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Edu said “Due to your sincere support, fatherly advice and being a voice for your people have contributed to the progress we have made as a state. We appreciate all your chiefs for their support and hope for more as we collectively battle this pandemic”.
The team visited the 100-bed Adiabo Isolation Centre established by the Cross River Government with the support of a non-profit agency known as the Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID and a reference laboratory amongst others.