Panic in Calabar over upsurge in malaria cases

 Panic has gripped the city of Calabar and its environ, as hospitals and pharmacies recorded an unprecedented upsurge in malaria and typhoid fever cases, with an increasing demand for malaria and other related drugs.

This development has heightened speculations that Coronavirus may have found its way into the state.

A pharmacist, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Since we started this business of drug selling 20 years ago, we have not made so many sales in malaria, vitamin c and other related drugs, as we have done this period. Some persons are suspecting COVID-19, but I don’t know.”

Rising from its Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) of June 10, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State, in a press release, yesterday, also raised concerns on increasing malaria cases in Calabar saying, “the increasing report of flu-like symptoms, respiratory symptoms and loss of smell/taste in various hospitals in the state is an indication of potential community transmission of an undetected disease fitting the epidemiologic pattern of COVID-19.”

The release, signed by the State Chairman of NMA and the Secretary, Dr. Agam E. Ayuk and Dr. Ezoke Epoke respectively, said recent research published in Nature Medicine in the United Kingdom revealed: “loss of smell (anosmia) was a stronger predictor than a fever for COVID-19,” prompting recommendations on self-isolation if detected. We call on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, through the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), State Government and all Stakeholders to critically appraise the COVID-19 status of the state.

“The gross under-testing for COVID-19 in Cross River State is a significant public health concern. The COVID-19 tests breakdown by states as of June 10, 2020, released by NCDC revealed Cross River State has carried out only nine tests, using the NCDC Molecular Laboratory. The Association continues to advocate up-scaling of COVID-19 testing in the state.”

NMA said recent declaration by the State Government on a trial resumption of three public schools in each of the three Senatorial Districts in the state to commence on June 16, 2020, “is alarming and to the medical community, there is a lack of evidence to ascertain the actual COVID-19 status and disease burden in the state, due to the unacceptably low number of tests carried out.

But the Commissioner for Health and Chairman of the State COVID-19 Response Team, Dr. Beta Edu, denied any claim of COVID-19 in the state saying, “there is no Coronavirus in Cross River State.”

Edu disclosed that the Calabar-based administration had tested 36 cases and conducted 530 screening so far, which all have returned negative.

The Guardian
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