By Jonathan Ugbal
The Commissioner for health in Cross River state, Dr. Betta Edu has said that the seeming discrepancies in the data for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases is due to the strict standing order of procedure (SOP) of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
There have been discrepancies in the reported number of new infections of the SARS – CoV2, the number discharged and the active case tally for about two weeks as reported in two occasions by CrossRiverWatch.
In the first report, there were disparities in the number of deaths and those discharged.
Meanwhile, the second report showed a huge difference in the number of confirmed infections and active case tall.
And, Edu who is the Chairman of the state’s COVID-19 task force told this reporter that it was due to the “strict” SOP’s put in place by the NCDC.
“We are using gene expert machines to test here and when you do a test and send the result to the NCDC, they are very strict and it could take days before they check all what they want to check,” Edu said.
“For instance, they will check for the name to ensure that it is not a repeated case because someone could do a test in one state and travel to another state where the person carries out a test again, the NCDC will record it as one incident. So, whether you do, two or more tests it is a repeat incident. If you tested positive and they do a test and you are still positive, it shows as one, it can’t be listed as another case which is why you see errata sometimes,” she said.
The Cross River branch of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria had called on the federal government to investigate alleged underreporting of cases.
But, Dr. Edu explained that the process was time consuming and having to deal with the entire country was no easy feat.
She averred that: “If you send a sample and Kano sends 500, they may start working and not finish all. So, you will upload what you have but the have to delay and check the gene expert test number, the incident number and the epidemiological number to ensure they are not repeats. It could take them up to 48 hours or more to go through all so when people say there is a case of underreporting, they don’t understand what is going on. The NCDC is being careful and thorough.”
Explaining further, she said: “We had this case where three people tested at IDH (Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital, formerly Infectious Disease Hospital) and went to test at (the University of Calabar) Teaching Hospital. UCTH reached us for epidemiological numbers which were given and the NCDC said look, these numbers are basically same. So, they are that thorough. It could be that the number is incomplete or one piece of information is missing and that is all that will be needed for them not to upload your data even while you may have done so.”
However, she said the state recently had a shortage in cartridges for the gene expert machines which slowed testing for five days.
“There was a time recently that we ran out of cartridges for less than a week, about five days. We have since gotten about 2,000 cartridges and the samples collected and stored are being tested,” she said.
The state has recorded 58 confirmed infections so far according to the NCDC. However, as at Monday morning, the data had not been updated on the website of the state’s ministry of health.
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