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FG Increases Nigeria’s Testing Capacity to 50, 000

In a bid to clampdown on the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the NCDC has increased its testing capacity to 50, 000, 2 months after Nigeria recorded its index case.

Responding to the propensity of some states playing with COVID-19 figures, the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, warned state governments against competing with figures, saying there was no shame in having a higher number of positive cases.

The states mentioned include Kogi, Nasarawa, Cross River and Yobe where no COVID-19 case has so far been reported, not to hide from relevant officials who meet the case definition to be screened and their samples extracted for testing.
Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu, who spoke at the daily briefing of the PTF in Abuja, yesterday said, “There are only four states at the moment that have not reported a case in Nigeria: Cross River, Kogi, Nasarawa and Yobe. We are looking at the number of samples collected from these states.

“We are not satisfied with the number of samples collected. We need to test more, but to test more, we need to collect more and that collection part is the responsibility of states and their public health teams.

The Federal Government also announced that its molecular laboratory in Kano State that was earlier shutdown due to decontamination after some staff got infected with the virus, has been reopened.

“So, in the interest of all the healthcare workers in Kano, especially in the teaching hospital, we had to pause and shut down that laboratory for a few days and that was exactly what we did. We have been working together with our colleagues to reactivate this laboratory but we have to do it safely.

“In the last 72 hours, we sent another team from the National Reference Laboratory of the NCDC and they have worked day and night over the weekend to reactivate that laboratory and I am happy to announce that the laboratory will start working this (Monday) afternoon (yesterday) and start testing samples again as they should be. This has not been easy, by any stretch of imagination,’’ Iheakwazu said.

On Nigeria’s testing capacity, Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu, also said, “On the Roche equipment, what we have at the moment in the country as we speak, is a capacity to test about 50,000. This is with the conventional RT-PCR and the new Roche equipment that we have launched today (yesterday). So, with every new laboratory that we have, we just set up a laboratory in Sokoto, it means we have to provide them with the logistics and everything they need to collect samples and we are looking to do this in 36 plus one states.

“The good thing about the new Roche equipment we are starting to work with today is that it eliminates the need for certain things like the extraction kits. So, we can actually do a lot more work in a short time.

“If we had all the samples in the laboratories, if all the collections happen from the states, we can do up to 900 or a thousand tests in a day. Really, there is a lot of capacity to test now, the challenge is to bring in the samples quickly and get the equipment working.”

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