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CALABAR: COVID OR MALARIA? CROSS RIVER WALKS ON THIN LINE AS SCHOOL RESUMES

With 8.1 million coronavirus cases and 439,574 deaths globally, countries worldwide are battling to recover from the blow the Coronavirus pandemic has dealt on every facet of human life. 


In Nigeria, the government is trying to open its economy despite the rising cases of Coronavirus. So far, all states in Nigeria except Cross River have recorded cases of COVID-19 infections.

A CURIOUS LOOK AT CROSS RIVER 

Cross River is a state located in South-South Nigeria that shares boundaries with Abia, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, and Benue- all these States have active records of Coronavirus cases. It also has a porous international border with Cameroon with 9864  recorded cases of COVID-19.  


One is curious that this South-South State has no official record of Coronavirus within its territory despite its proximity to states with active COVID 19 cases and Nigeria's lax border security. 


The Bauchi State Government recently said that 15 Coronavirus patients discovered in its State came from Calabar- a claim the Cross River government has vehemently denied. 


Medical experts in the State have also repeatedly raised an alarm that the claim of COVID-19 zero-status profile in Cross River is artificial because a small number of people have been tested. 


The Nigeria Medical Association, on June 13, released a memo saying, "the gross under-testing for COVID-19 in Cross River State is a significant public health concern. The COVID-19 tests breakdown by States as of June 10, 2020, released by NCDC revealed Cross River State has carried out only nine (9) tests using the NCDC Molecular Laboratory."


If only 9 persons out of over four million people in the State have been tested, then the claim that Cross River is Coronavirus free is fictitious. 


However, it is not fictitious that there has been no increase in the number of deaths in the State.  


Therefore investigations ought to be carried out to determine if Cross Riverians are immune to COVID-19. If that be the case, the State might unknowingly be sitting on a cure or vaccine against the Coronavirus.


RISING CASES OF MALARIA OR COVID? 

Governor Ben Ayade, a Professor of Microbiology, said the residents of his State need not observe social distancing in preventing Coronavirus once citizens wear a mask in public. 


"I'm a professor of science, and I know how this virus moves; I know its etiology. I know its transmissibility, I know its antigenicity; because I do, I know that once you put on this mask, you have already been protected," he said. 


However, in Calabar, hospitals and pharmacies have recorded an unusual increase in malaria and typhoid cases. Unfortunately, since the State is not carrying out Coronavirus tests and resident doctors are on an indefinite strike, no one can ascertain the cause of the spike in the number of sick patients in the State.  


In a country like Nigeria, where ailments are casually assumed to be malaria or typhoid, residents are left to 'hope' that their ailing health condition is a symptom of malaria and not COVID-19. 


SCHOOLS RESUME IN CALABAR DESPITE CONCERNS OF SUSPECTED RISE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES

The State Government ordered a trial resumption of three public schools in each of the three Senatorial Districts in the State on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

According to Governor Ayade, the government would provide facemasks for students free of charge. 

Governor Ayade's order to reopen schools is too much of a gamble with too many coronavirus-related questions left unanswered in the State.  


Because if there is a possibility of a pandemic out there, then children should stay at home and be safe -a view, the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC seems to share.


Report says members of the NCDC thwarted the plan to reopen the West African People's Institute, one of the Schools Ayade ordered to resume today. 


Governor Ayade's decision to reopen schools amid growing Coronavirus concerns, and against repeated warnings from medical experts might be luck pushed too far. 



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