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Confusion in Akwa Ibom over COVID-19 management

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom has called for the resignation of the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, over his alleged role in the crisis rocking the health sector in the area, especially as it affected the management of COVID-19.

This is even as the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has faulted the actions of the health commissioner in the management of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the state.

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This may not be unconnected with the alleged redeployment of Dr. Aniekeme Uwah as the state’s epidemiologist, an action that had continued to draw widespread condemnation as residents believed his removal was unjustified and would hamper the fight against the spread of Coronavirus in the state.

The APC, in a statement signed by its state’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Nkereuwem Enyongekere, and made available to newsmen in Uyo yesterday, alleged that the removal of Uwah was for the purposes of a cover-up.

“Since the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic, there have been several reports of Ukpong and indeed the Akwa Ibom government directly censoring the medical practice decisions of the doctors in the state COVID-19 team.

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“The dictatorial and unilateral sacking of the state’s Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Aniekeme Uwah, on April 24, 2020, was not unconnected with the doctor exercising his discretion as a seasoned and revered physician and epidemiologist in taking 31 instead of 10 samples as directed by the government through the health commissioner.

“Our party believes that Uwah was removed for the purposes of a cover-up. The government just wants to suppress our figures to scale down the number of samples sent from the state for testing as he (the health commissioner) would not want Akwa Ibom to be rated number one on the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country, as it was the case in HIV incidence and prevalence rate.

“Otherwise, what crime has Uwah committed to warrant instant sacking from office as the state’s Chief Epidemiologist during a pandemic period like this? Ukpong has failed in the handling of the current pandemic in the state.”

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The NMA, through its state Public Relations Officer, Dr. Emmanuel John, accused the commissioner of censoring samples of suspected COVID-19 patients to be tested to give the impression of a low relevance of the virus in the area.

Meanwhile, in line with recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the fight against COVID-19, Akwa Ibom State government has carried out massive decontamination of major cities and strategic locations in the state.

Chairman of the State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA), Mr. Prince Ikim, who spoke with newsmen over the weekend at the agency’s premises, said that the massive and continuous decontamination of surfaces at public places across the state was informed by the importance the Udom Emmanuel-led government places on the lives of Akwa Ibom citizens.

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