By Sunday Bassey
The Akwa Ibom Government has threatened to shut down COVID-19 testing centres using or procuring the use of any other testing method asides the approved Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) method.
Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, leader of the state COVID-19 Management Committee, stated this during an interactive session with newsmen in Uyo on Monday.
According to him, the state government condemned any attempt to use serological testing in the determination of a person’s COVID-19 status.
He also said that it had a 40-per cent chance of error and could cause an additional threat to the health of such a person.
Ekuwem said that the move was to protect the lives of Akwa Ibom people adding that the position was according to the NCDC guidelines and global best practice.
“In line with emerging realities in COVID-19 detection and management, it has become imperative for the state government to unambiguously define its position on the standard and quality of test acceptable within the borders of Akwa Ibom.
“Akwa Ibom government, hereby, announces that the testing method acceptable is the PCR test.
“This position is made under the NCDC guidelines and global best practices. The primary duty of any government is the protection of lives and property of its citizens.”
He said that research findings had shown clearly that no other testing method could guarantee less error rate than the PCR, hence, the state government’s preference for it.
He said that the state government condemned specifically any attempt to use serological testing in the determination of a person’s COVID-19 status.
“This test has a very high failure rate and is, therefore a public health risk, which is unacceptable to us as a responsible government.
“Any health facility or private laboratory seeking to undertake COVID-19 test is reminded that they must first obtain clearance and certification from the NCDC and be registered with the state government.
“Any organisation using or procuring any other testing method for COVID-19 will be shut down by the state government for constituting a public health threat to the people of our dear state,” Ekuwem said.
He used the occasion to encourage churches in the state to set up an intra- church COVID-19 guidelines and monitoring compliance team, to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols in churches across the state.
On testing and care for pregnant women in the state, Ekuwem assured the public that pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19 would be treated with the best possible care, following national protocols.