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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) yesterday faulted claims by Kogi and Cross River States to be coronavirus (COVID-19) free, saying the states must ensure that they follow the testing guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The association urged the Federal Government to investigate the claims of the two state governments in the interest of safeguarding Nigeria’s public health.

The President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said “pronouncements of some political leaders constitute outright interference in NCDC’s coordination of case treatment for effectiveness and learning lessons.”

The NMA “vehemently decries the stance of the Governments of Kogi and Cross River states to NCDC’s advisory.”

It added: “While it would be welcome news for a ‘no-positive-case’ status in any state or FCT, every state must ensure that it is following the testing guideline issued by the NCDC.

“That way, no cases are missed, as that would seriously imperil the whole national response to controlling COVID-19 pandemic.”

The NMA  appealed to the Federal Government, through the Presidential Task Force (PTF), to investigate the claims of the two state governments in the interest of safeguarding Nigeria’s Public Health, and to recommend appropriate remedial intervention (s) if necessary to Mr. President.

It said: “NMA review revealed verifiable difficulties in collecting samples, transporting them in the proper media and dearth of test kits by the Coordinating authorities. This development is coming a few days after being told of the markedly increased capacity of 50,000 samples per day in 21 laboratories to ramp up testing nationwide.

“The Association places the responsibility on the PTF and the NCDC to find the fastest workable solutions to fix this challenge, including incorporating the approved private sector laboratories that already have established specimen pick up and transport modalities.”

On the Infectious Diseases Control Bill 2020, proposed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the NMA said it welcomed the resolve of the House to subject the Bill to a Public Hearing.

It called for the withdrawal of the Bill entirely and redrafting it to remove any existing and future doubts in the people.

“The NMA is not oblivious of the socio-political and economic implications of continued lockdown, and the attendant hunger and acute deprivation in the population. But the NMA maintains the firm view that the solution is not to loosen the lockdown prematurely, for that assures more catastrophic worsening of the infection and deaths from coronavirus.

“Instead, The NMA proffers that the solution lies in a more robust and widened palliatives’ policy and its practical and urgent implementation.

“NMA welcomes the announcement of Special Risk Allowance and Insurance for Healthcare Workers and has stated as much already.

“We therefore strongly demand that there should be no further delay in commencement of the payment of the announced sums or contemplation of effective date of implementation as it was of common knowledge when COVID-19 became a public health emergency in Nigeria.”