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Rivers government accuses NMA of creating COVID-19 panic

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Princewill Chike


30% of confirmed cases in Enugu are healthcare practitioners, says association

Rivers State government has cautioned the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) against being COVID-19 panic-creating machine over its claim that 82 health workers had been infected by the disease.

The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, said it was untrue that healthcare workers are all infected because they lack Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the health facilities in the state.

Rivers State NMA chairperson, Obelebra Adebiyi, had at the weekend claimed that 22 doctors and about 60 other health workers had been infected by coronavirus in the state.

She also lamented lack of inadequate PPE for health workers on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19. But the commissioner said that the data provided by the NMA was baseless, totally untrue and misconstrued for personal reasons.

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Chike, who did not provide contrary data to contradict the NMA, said the medical body should be seen as a courageous partner and not a panic-creating machine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He stated that the NMA chairman ought to know that the rising number of persons infected with the disease in the state was not only a reflection of a national trend but a true demonstration of the increased testing capacity in the state with four active PCR machines dedicated to COVID-19 diagnosis and running at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).

Chike, therefore, enjoined the association to show solidarity and unity against the pandemic and not to resort to playing politics with health and creating unfounded fear in the society, which can hurt the control effort and create danger.

IN a related vein, the Enugu State Chapter of the NMA yesterday raised the alarm over upsurge in cases of coronavirus among healthcare practitioners in the state, disclosing that about 30 per cent of confirmed cases were healthcare personnel working in the state.

It expressed fears that with the spate of community transmission, all health personnel in the state are prone to be infected irrespective of private or public health system/isolation centres.

As at press time yesterday, reported confirmed cases in Enugu State stood at 51, with 32 active and 16 discharged cases, while three had died.The visibly worried state Chairman of the NMA, Dr. Ike Okwesili, who told The Guardian that adequate provisions must be made to protect health workers in the state, blamed the development on the collective failure of compliance and enforcement of already set infection prevention and control policy of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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