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Anxiety as teaching hospital allegedly admits first COVID-19 suspect in Cross River


Appearance of strange ‘oil workers’ induces fears at hospitality

The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) may have admitted the first Coronavirus suspect to its isolation centre in Cross River.

It was gathered that the patient, a youth corps member in Ugep, Yakurr Local Council of the state, returned recently from Abuja with symptoms of the disease.

The news however caused panic, as a viral video showed the patient being wheeled into the centre.But the hospital’s management yesterday refuted the report, but confirmed that a patient had been admitted in the isolation centre.

The Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Professor Ogbu Ngim, said: “This morning (yesterday), we were made to understand that a patient was brought into our casualty department who had some upper respiratory tract infections – cough.”


He added: “The patient was not sneezing. She didn’t have fever. She didn’t have any of the symptoms that will say this is COVID-19, but as you know, everybody this period even if you have malaria will think it is COVID-19 which is not correct. However, we observed what we call universal precaution on any case that you think maybe and she was taken to the Isolation centre.

“We have followed the universal precaution and it is important to note that before you labelled a case as being COVID-19, they are protocols to follow. Those protocols are yet to be exhausted; we do not have a positive confirmatory test. As we speak, samples have been taken; we only observed what we call universal precaution on any case that you think maybe.”

Meanwhile, the scare of the virus has hit Calabar, as 28 oil workers believed to come from Port Harcourt yesterday locked down Tinapa Hotel, leading to a forced self-quarantine.

Sources at the hospitality claimed that the oil workers were an advance team of 35 Americans aboard Ibom Air who were allegedly trying to assess the city from Lagos but were originally frustrated.


They said the visitors “came in by road from Port Harcourt and asked us not to admit anymore guests and we should not go out as they will pay for everything.”

The development has raised suspicion in town with some persons querying: “They are oil workers from Port Harcourt. Why did they not stay in Port Harcourt and fly with their chopper to their rig? Why should they come in and stay hush in a hotel when hotels are shutting down? So there is something funny about their stay. They do not want the workers to go out and funny enough, Tinapa is in the outskirts of Calabar and it is not even functioning to accommodate guests let alone oil workers that often go for the best hotels in town. Besides, Cross River has no oil rig or platform.”

The inquiry went on: “Or could it be as rig workers, they don’t want the rig to be infected or alarmed hence they decided to keep them on shore first for observation for sometime as they are managed by their own doctor. In this disease, it grows in an astrometry order where one can affect one, two infect four and in that order. That is why the government has to get to the bottom of it because if 28 persons are infected, it is possible that over 1,000 can get it in Calabar.”


During a visit yesterday to the hospitality, The Guardian observed that it was deserted with a policeman stationed at its entrance alongside three other persons. In a swift reaction, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, stated: “I have not heard of that, I know of the 35 persons who tried to make their way into the state but they were stopped.

“This other group of people I have never heard about them. I will send our team down there to confirm the story.”She added: “The general situation in Calabar is still calm and we are working on sensitisation, especially in the rural areas where they seem not to understand the implications of COVID-19.”

However, businesses in the Cross River State capital city have been affected by the lockdown ordered by Governor Ben Ayade to check the Coronavirus outbreak. Though prices of goods were not in anyway affected, markets were, however, not as busy as they used to be. Also pinched by the scenario are bars and eateries, which were adhering to the social distancing directive.


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