The doctors’ association in Kogi State has expressed concern over the refusal of Kogi State to test suspected cases of coronavirus.
As of Tuesday night, Nigeria has tested 19,512 people with 2,948 confirmed cases and 98 deaths across the country.
Kogi is one of the two states yet to confirm any case of the virus since the country recorded its index case in February. The other state is Cross River.
In Kogi, the state government is deliberately discouraging COVID-19 tests and has alleged that there is a plot by unnamed persons to ensure Kogi records cases of the virus
This attitude of the Kogi government has irked the doctors’ association in Kogi who warn it could be dangerous.
The Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kogi chapter, Kabir Zubair, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, expressed fears that the consequences of not testing people for the COVID-19 may be too enormous to deal with.
“If the state is not testing anybody despite having many suspected cases, it only translates that there may be more cases to deal with later and we don’t know where they are now.
“Community transmission will be inevitable. And this could only spell impending doom,” he said.
Similarly, last month, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, expressed dissatisfaction over the number of samples brought in for testing from states that were yet to record COVID-19 cases.
Naming Kogi alongside other three states (Nasarawa, Yobe and Cross River), the official said there was a lot of capacity to test, but there were not enough samples.
Mr Ihekweazu accused the states of possible negligence or attempts at hiding any record of the disease in the states.
Yobe and Nasarawa have since recorded cases of the virus.
“We have looked at the number of samples collected from these states and we are not satisfied. So, we need to test more. But to test more, we need to collect more and the collection part is the responsibility of the states and their public health teams.
“You can’t hide this. Eventually, it will emerge. There is absolutely no doubt that there are people that have pneumonia, acute respiratory infections in your states,” Mr Ihekweazu said.
In what appeared a reaction to Mr Ihekweazu’s statement, the Kogi State Government alleged there were “recent pressures from some interesting quarters for Kogi State to find and declare cases of the disease.”
In a Tuesday statement by its commissioner for information, Kingsley Fanwo, the state alleged plans to ‘import’ cases of coronavirus into the state through illicit means.
The Kogi government said it would not manufacture cases to satisfy the expectations of unnamed health officials, amidst allegations, including by a journalist, that the state has recorded deaths from the virus at a Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in the state.
Mr Fanwo, in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, said nobody had died from the disease in the state.
He said the FMC “is owned by the federal government and controlled by the federal ministry of health.”
“It is your duty as journalists to discern fake news from facts. Kogi has no case of COVID-19 or deaths relating to that,” he said.
Asked how suspected cases were being detected without testing, he said the state had developed a self-assessment app around the NCDC’s checklist for ‘suspected and high-risk cases.’
He said more than 200,000 people had accessed the app but when investigations were carried out, no case had been identified as ‘high-risk.’
“When they fill the questionnaire on the app, we trace them to their houses and have a personal interrogation with them.
“From there, the team of health experts take it with the supervision of the state epidemiologist who reports to the commissioner and then to the NCDC. So if they say there is no case, there is no case. That’s all,” he said.