The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State branch, has described as alarming the decision of the state government to begin a trial resumption of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fearing pupils could contract the virus.
The association issued the warning on Saturday in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Dr Agam Ayuk, and Secretary, Dr Ezoke Epoke, after its ordinary general meeting which deliberated on the COVID-19 response in the state and the health sector.
The statement read in part, “The declaration by the Cross River State Government of a trial resumption of three public schools in each of the three senatorial districts in the state on June 16, 2020, is alarming.
“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 unacceptable low number of tests carried out.
“The quick resumption of schools, despite genuine reasons, has the potential of significant disease outbreak among pupils. The association advocates the adoption of educational technologies to provide remote learning opportunities and educational programmes for pupils in public schools in the interim, which is currently being implemented by private schools until a national policy is introduced on the unified resumption of schools by the Federal Government.”
The NMA further said the “gross” under-testing of COVID-19 in the state was a significant public health concern, saying as of June 10, data by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that the state had carried out only nine tests using the NCDC Molecular Laboratory.
Meanwhile, the state government has debunked the claim by the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, that 15 COVID-19 patients in the northern state came from Cross River State.