Workers at the National Obstetric Fistula Centre in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, are living in fear after receiving an internal memo that warned of an outbreak of new strains of COVID-19 in the state.
The memo, dated August 22, 2023, was sent by the head of clinical services, Dr. Yakubu E.N, to the hospital community.
The memo stated that the new strains, BA.4 and BA.5, are more contagious and deadly than the previous ones.
It also said that the symptoms are different and include joint pain, headache, neck and upper back pain, general weakness, loss of appetite, pneumonia and sore throat. It added that the nasal swab tests are often negative for COVID-19 and that the virus directly affects the lungs.
The memo urged the workers to be extremely careful and avoid crowded places, keep 1.5 distance even in open places, double face masks and wash their hands often. It also advised them to share the information with their friends and family.
The memo has caused panic among the workers and the general public. However, a senior health official, who spoke to Daily Post anonymously, expressed doubt over the authenticity of the claims by Dr. Yakubu.
She said that if there was an outbreak of COVID-19 or any of its variants in Ebonyi State, the ministry of health would be the right authority to announce it.
She said that she was not aware of any cases of BA.4 or BA.5 strains in the state and that Dr. Yakubu might have gotten his information from unreliable sources.
As of the time of filing this report, the Ebonyi State Ministry of Health has not issued any statement on the matter.