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Cross River government warns on impending epidemic outbreak

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Following looting of patent samples for Tuberculosis (TB), HIV and COVID-19 in public hospitals, the Cross River Government has issued public health warning to residents of the state on possible outbreak of an epidemic.

In the heat of the #EndSARS protests that led to destruction of government and private property on October 23 and 24, several samples stored at the Lawrence Henshaw Infectious Disease Hospital and others were either carted away or spilled, raising fears of an outbreak of infections in Calabar and other parts of the state.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, who issued the public notification yesterday, said the public health implication of the attack could be huge, adding: “During the attacks, the Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital in Calabar South, the CRS Essential Drug Programme (EDP) premises on Barracks Road and the CRS COVID-19 treatment centre in Tinapa were among facilities invaded and destroyed.”

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She said equipment and furniture, some containing patent samples for Tuberculosis (TB), HIV and COVID-19, were either carted away or spilled in the rubbles that were left behind, maintaining that there was increased risk of disease outbreak among those who took part in the looting activities, especially in the listed sites, their neighbours or anybody, who may be within close range of the contaminated locations.

“The ministry has ordered immediate decontamination of the affected sites and the close environments. Members of the public are advised to follow all established protocols for COVID-19 and respiratory route infections such as hand hygiene, use of face masks and restriction from crowded areas.

“Arrangements have been made for free testing for TB, COVID-19 and HIV. Exposed individuals and others who desire to know their status should go for free testing and treatment at the General Hospital on Mary Slessor Road, Calabar,” she added.

She advised members of the public to report any unusual cough, fever or abnormal presentations to the nearest public health facility for immediate medical care, adding that the state government was working to restore public healthcare services in the affected places.

Meanwhile, reports emerged that the damage in the affected hospitals might run into billions of Naira, as structures were razed in some cases.

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