Controversy trails Cross River COVID-19 testing methods, status
Coronavirus testing methods and status in Cross River State are enmeshed in controversy, following claims and counter-claims from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTC), the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), the State Government and the Association Of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN).
The Chief Medical Director, UCTH, Prof Ikpeme Ikpeme had, on Thursday, in a circular, said a test result came back COVID-19 positive in Calabar, following a recent antibody Rapid Diagnostic Test on a patient, though the patient has recovered and discharged.
Similarly, the state NMA, in a press statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Dr. Agam E. Ayuk and Dr. Ezoke Epoke, raised concerns on increasing malaria cases in Calabar saying, “the increasing report of flu-like symptoms, respiratory symptoms and loss of smell/taste in hospitals and metropolis was an indication of potential community transmission of an undetected disease fitting COVID-19 epidemiologic pattern.”
However, the State Commissioner for Health and Chairman, Taskforce Committee on COVID-19, Dr Betta Edu, in a reaction, said there was no positive COVID-19 case in the state. “It is important to state that an index COVID-19 case can only be confirmed with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and not the antibody Rapid Diagnostic Test kits, which the NCDC had said has very low sensitivity and should not be used for COVID-19 diagnosis, as it may produce false positive cases.”
But the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, condemned the PCR test method saying it was unreliable and not to be used for diagnostic purposes.
Also, the Cross River State Branch of AMLSN, yesterday, raised alarm over the use of RDT kits for testing, saying the disparity between number of samples collected and actual test performed raises more questions than answers.