February 27, 2021

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COVID-19: Medical doctors fault Ayade over mask wearing claims

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Medical doctors in Cross River State have faulted the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade over his claims that anyone who wears masks does not need to observe the social distancing.

The doctors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, said in a statement on Wednesday that “having extensively reviewed the level of preparedness and cogent steps taken to prevent and contain any outbreak of COVID-19 in Cross River State, policy statements from the State Government and recent press statements from the State Commissioner for Health have come up with the following position statements:

“The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State acknowledges and commends the measures so far instituted by the Cross River State Government towards securing the borders of the State to help limit the transmission and a spread of COVID-19 from neighbouring States and Cameroun.

“The policy of the use of clothe nose mask introduced by the Cross River State Government which has now been recommended by the Federal Government is also highly commendable. However, while the use of facemask is helpful, it does not confer full protection against COVID-19 and citizens of the State should not be lured into a false sense of security by the mere use of face mask.”

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The doctors said the use of face mask alone was not sufficient to prevent people from being infected by the pandemic. “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Interim Guidance of April 6, 2020, the use of face masks (medical or non-medical) whether for source control (used by infected persons) or prevention of COVID-19 (used by healthy persons) alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection and advises other measures to be adopted.

“Therefore, face mask is complementary to social/physical distancing of at least 1 meter, avoiding mass gatherings, effective hand and respiratory hygiene and cleaning of all contact surfaces among other measures as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organisation.”

The doctors also faulted the governor for ordering workers to resume work in the state civil service. They said “the press release by Mr. Christian Ita, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor with ref: GO/PRESS/012/VOL.1/179 dated April 11, 2020 directing all civil servants from Grade level 10 and above to resume work is ill-timed and not in the best public health interest of the State.

“The primordial/primary prevention strategy of the State Government is obviously the cheapest, safest and best strategy to adopt considering our peculiar challenges, but could be derailed by this mass resumption of staff that constitutes almost 50% of the workforce. We advise other means of getting critical sectors to work while avoiding mass gatherings because of the risk posed by asymptomatic carriers of the virus and without resources for mass testing of the population.

“The Cross River State Government currently has no Isolation Centre. The 4-bed capacity Isolation Unit at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar is the Infectious Disease Ward of the Department of Microbiology, UCTH.

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“According to the report of April 8, 2020 by the Central Working Committee of Health Professionals in Cross River State made up of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria (AMLSN) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), to the Commissioner for Health “UCTH Isolation Centre lacked basic facilities, equipment and accessories based on NCDC specifications. The patient capacity of UCTH Isolation Centre is grossly inadequate. Hence, we recommend that the State Government should set up a more expansive and accommodating Isolation Centre as soon as possible”.

“The press interview granted by the State Hon. Commissioner for Health on AIT International Kakaaki programme on April 14, 2020, during which she declared that the State Government has one hundred and five (105) Doctors in the State civil service is grossly misleading and a misrepresentation of a critical issue adversely affecting effective health care delivery in Cross River State. For the avoidance of doubt, we have attached the distribution of Cross River State Doctors across the various State facilities reaffirming our position of thirty three (33) doctors in the Cross River State Civil Service.

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