By Comrade Nnadi Goodluck
The National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) officials sent to Kogi State by the federal government have reportedly left the state in a hurry and went back to Abuja, after the State Governor, Yahaya Bello ordered for their compulsory 14 days isolation and COVID-19 test.
The governor gave the order Thursday night when the visiting NCDC official shook hands with the state Director of Protocol while exchanging microphone after speaking to introduce his team to the audience.
The NCDC officials led by Dr. Andrew Noah, visited Kogi State to ascertain the COVID-19 status of the state and assist the state in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Dr. Noah Andrew, leader of the delegation from Abuja, had presented a letter titled: “Deployment of Rapid Response Squad to help in fighting Covid-19”, to the governor, explaining the mission of the health officials in the state.
He said they were there to provide logistics just like they had done in other states of the federation.
He said two members of the team would be left behind to help the state and support her efforts of the state government already in place.
He said: “We are here to support the state in shipping swabs and samples and ascertain the preparedness of the state in fighting Covid-19.”
The governor while giving the isolation order, said that the step was to ensure that the laid down procedure of checkmating the scourge by NCDC and World Health Organisation (WHO) is strictly followed.
The governor added that the WHO had recommended a 14-day quarantine for travellers after which tests would be conducted.
The Governor said: “Our people are adequately sensitised in all languages and locations throughout the state about Covid-19. As much as practicable Kogites now observe social distancing, handwashing and other protocols for prevention of infection.
“The Kogi State Ministry of Health has deployed health personnel to all the 239 Wards of the State, 2 focal persons per ward, who constantly sensitize the people on the dangers of the virus, communicate news or even rumours of suspected cases to the incident committee or task force for investigation and also assist in contact tracing.
“We have set up 3 modern Isolation/Containment Centres in the State having a combined capacity of 130-bed spaces. These facilities currently lie unused. It is our prayer and our determination that these isolation centres will remain vacant until the pandemic is over.
“We have provided emergency and toll-free numbers for the general public to call in and report suspected cases of Covid-19 at no cost whatsoever. We have also fielded many of such calls. All of them turned out to be false alarms upon investigation and did not meet the criteria from the NCDC for cases which should be sampled for testing.
“In the circumstances, we cannot manufacture cases in order to be counted among the states which have recorded same. As a Governor I hear there are ‘benefits’ for having Covid-19 cases in your state, well, I am not interested”.
Reacting on the issue, the Kogi state commissioner for information and communication, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, said the NCDC should come hard on its officials for violating its rules.
He said: “NCDC quarantined the Chinese professionals that came to give them technical support and also took their samples for test. It is a normal practice and protocol set by NCDC.
“So NCDC will have a lot to explain as to why its officials refused to test for COVID-19. How can we be sure of their status? What are their fears? Why did NCDC sent people who are afraid of test to our state? What was their intention?
“The officials that came have done an integrity blow to the works of the NCDC. Is there something they are hiding? It is time NCDC opened up and apologize to the good people of Kogi state.”
Last week, Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the NCDC, had expressed dissatisfaction with the samples collected from the states, saying more tests need to be done.
But the Kogi and Cross River governments had indirectly accused the agency of plotting to infect residents of their states with the disease.