Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Medical Laboratory Scientists (MLS) in Cross River State have raised the alarm that there are possible COVID-19 carriers in the state and called for the conduct of aggressive testing of samples of suspected carriers across the state.
The MLS, which raised the alarm through their umbrella organisation, the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria, AMLSN, Cross River Branch, told journalists yesterday in Calabar that not more than ten samples have been sent, from the state that has a population of about 4 million, for testing since the report of the COVID-19 index case in Nigeria in February this year,.
The Chairman of Cross River Branch of AMLSN, Mr. Ndem Benedict, who addressed a press briefing yesterday, said: “We can only add that the best way to validate the success of state prevention strategy is by testing, testing and more testing, since it remains the only method to ascertain the success or otherwise of the preventive strategy deployed thus far in the state.
“So far, since February 27 when the index case was recorded in Nigeria, of the almost 25,000 test performed in the nation not more than ten samples (persons) have been tested from Cross River State to our knowledge.”
Benedict said it could be misleading to conclude that there were no COVID-19 positive cases in the state because aggressive testing has not been conducted.
“Such low testing profile can only give our current zero-prevalence status a very fragile or artificial picture. We strongly recommend, and encourage active surveillance and testing for COVID-19 in the state.
“We implore the state government to liaise with National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC and possibly in partnership with donor agencies such as 54 gene amongst others to set up testing centers in the state without any further delay.
“In this regard, the current facilities at BSL 3 Laboratory at Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital and BSL2 HIV PCR lab at University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, could be the likely candidates for upgrading or recalibration to function as testing centers for Covid-19.
“We can unequivocally confirm that there are more than enough medical laboratory scientists in the state with requisite RT- PCR testing proficiency, who are quite ready and willing to drive such facility in the state.
“We are utterly dismayed with a very disturbing practice of transporting clinical specimens from suspected COVID-19 cases in the state by public transport system from collection points to collation center before onward movement to NCDC testing center.
“We hereby call on the state’s Covid-19 Task Force to do the needful by conforming to the universal best practice of assigning an ambulance or any dedicated utility vehicle for transport of potentially infectious clinical specimens.”