The Nigerian Medical Association on Friday said it was “incredibly disturbed” by the response of the Kogi State government over the discovery of two index cases of coronavirus in the North-central state.
“The state Commissioner of Information did not only describe the process of arriving at the diagnosis as fraudulent, but he also went on to smear the frontline Health workers and the NCDC (Nigeria’s infectious disease agency) on live national television,” Francis Faduyile, the NMA president said in a statement.
“His use of profane words is capable of demoralizing the exemplary gold-winning health workers and the untiring NCDC, which possibly can lead to a national catastrophe,” he warned.
The government in Kogi has been at loggerheads with federal authorities and the NCDC since the outbreak of COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus.
Kogi and Cross Rivers were the only states yet to confirm any case of the virus until Wednesday when the NCDC announced 389 new cases out of which two were from Kogi State. It meant Cross River State remained the sole uninfected state as of May 27.
The Kogi government immediately disputed the test results, insisting that it would not accept any test result “conducted outside the state.”
Authorities in Kogi have been pitted with federal officials for discouraging tests for people with symptoms of coronavirus. They believe there is a plot to compulsorily report COVID-19 cases in the state but medical experts and the NCDC said the low number of test samples turned in from the state is making it difficult to ascertain if they are actually coronavirus-free.
Despite being surrounded by states with confirmed cases of the virus, the government in Kogi has at least once scuttled efforts by NCDC to coordinate COVID-19 testing.
The NMA had condemned the continued obstruction of the NCDC by the Kogi government, calling on the federal government to probe the state’s ‘free status’.
In Friday’s statement, Mr Faduyile, the NMA president, said the Kogi State government “especially has hardened its heart and ensured that the Kogi people remain in the dark, untested.”
“The people are therefore undiagnosed and untreated even though COVID-19 epidemiologic pattern has 80% of cases that present with none or very mild symptoms yet shedding the virus in their airway and innocently infecting others who may become sicker and die. The identification of these cases is through testing, according to standardized protocols,” he said.