The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has revealed that till date, 10,000 persons have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on Thursday in Abuja, urged people to stop playing the game of numbers by comparing Nigeria’s testing capacity with that of countries like South Africa, Ghana etc.
According to him, “We have a very good strategy around testing. Until recently, we had about 5,000 test but last week, we have moved from 5,000 to 10,000 tests. We are going to continue to scale up our testing rapidly. We have just got our first set of reagents for high throughput testing.
“We know that the numbers are always thrown around comparing us with South Africa and Ghana, but we are not playing the game of numbers here, these are people’s lives – human beings. Before we test anyone, we go through a risk assessment to make sure it is appropriate to test the person.”
Concerning the situation in Kano state, the NCDC boss said: “We need time. We have reports that there have been deaths. Our first line of action is to verify if it is true and what will be our next line of action if that is the case.
“We have a team that is working with the government of Kano state to verify the incident and make sure that what is going on is actually what is being reported. Then, we will carry out control measures and see if it is an infectious disease, COVID-19, or something else.
“Unlike Lagos that has a gradual increase in cases, the cases are really increasing rapidly in Kano state. Kano state situation is not a very simple thing to manage. We are working with them to increase the organisational efficiency of response. Also, the treatment centre in Kano state have a capacity of about 300.”
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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address, added: “Every country has its own strategy to combat the coronavirus. In Nigeria, we are not flattening the curve but we are pushing the curve to one side so that we have enough time to prepare our ‘not very strong’ health system.
“Also, in the beginning, we did not have enough reagents, in fact, we carried-out our tests in South Africa. But two months down the line, we can carry out our own tests with the 13 existing NCDC laboratories across the country.
“Concerning the use of rapid test kits, the World Health Organization (WHO), has not validated any of it. They believe that the results are not reliable but it probably gives you a direction. Therefore, there is not enough faith in rapid diagnostic test.”