By Jonathan Ugbal
The Cross River state government has said that the reason why the isolation center for the COVID-19 pandemic at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital does not have ventilators is due to the fact there was no need for it.
The health commissioner, Betta Edu in an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch explained that ventilators were equipment that required specialists to operate them and since the state was yet to record any suspected case of COVID-19, there was no need to move the ones at the Intensive Care Units of hospitals to a center with no patients.
“Cross River has always had these ventilators before now. Like I said at the press conference and before now, we have had these ventilators before now.
“The four new ones were kept at the store. Of course we had not gotten need for them. These other two, (one) was at General Hospital Ukem (in Odukpani local government area) and another was at General Hospital Calabar,” Edu told CrossRiverWatch.
The controversy over the availability of ventilators began when rights lawyer, James Ibor had in several comments on a Facebook post by Edu on Wednesday night said she was involved in a “PhotoSCAM” as the image of the ventilator she had shared was not at the isolation center. She had replied him saying she was not sure if he knew what a ventilator was.
Ibor had said that the five bed isolation center in Calabar was not enough especially as there was no ventilator available.
“We need a big hall, more beds fitted with ventilators,” he wrote in one comment, adding in another that; “5 beds with no ventilators is a huge joke.”
And, when pressed for why she posted an image of a ventilator not at the isolation center by this reporter, she averred that: “The picture which I posted was just to show that we had these ventilators in the state and that if it is needed, we will pull them from the hospital where they are presently serving those at the ICU and bring them to the isolation center.”
She further explained that: “For now, we have no case of COVID-19 in the isolation center. We don’t even have a suspected case, why should we remove ventilators from ICUs and go and keep them in an empty room! The ventilator in my post was not at the isolation center but at the General Hospital. The pictures are two different places.”
The post had sparked a debate on social media about the sincerity of the preparedness of the Ben Ayade’s administration to contain the pandemic if a case is eventually confirmed in the state.
And, Edu who stressed that: “There is no place at the isolation center where you saw me with a ventilator. There are two different places,” also said she found the situation, “very irritating when people misconstrued it and came blabbing and writing all sort of things and saying, ‘we are joking with lives, we are playing and we are doing all of these.’ I hope we can put all of these outside and let people know that Cross River was even ready before COVID-19 came.”
The ventilators which include four TMS Maxi 2200 which according to Edu were procured last year; one Carl Novel OHM208A and a PA-100C portable ventilator were moved to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Calabar as the state plans a total lockdown and to restrict intra-state movement from tomorrow.
The Carl Novel OHM208A was at General Hospital Ukem while the PA-100C portable ventilator is said to have just arrived from Lagos.
This reporter was also informed that the ventilator in Edu’a post could not be brought to the EOC as it could be needed in the facility it is in.
The Nigerian Center for Disease Control had at 8:00PM on Friday announced five new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 70 with 66 active cases and one death recorded while three have been discharged.
Five new cases of #COVID19 have been reported in Nigeria: 3 in FCT & 2 in Oyo State
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) March 27, 2020
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