The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it targets increasing its daily COVID-19 testing capacity to 2,000 samples in Lagos and 1,000 in the FCT and other states of the country.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, NCDC, made the disclosure at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the testing result for COVID-19 in the country takes 12 hours to report on negative case, and a much longer period for positive cases.
Ihekweazu said that the inhibiting factor to COVID-19 testing was not the number or capacity of the laboratories but the ability to identify suspected cases, in line with the expanded case definition.
“It also includes collecting samples from them and getting as many samples as possible into the laboratory for testing,” he explained.
The NCDC director-general noted that Nigeria now had 12 COVID-19 testing laboratories across the country to bring testing closer to Nigerians.
He disclosed that the NCDC’s ultimate goal was to have one laboratory in each state of the federation.
“We currently have capacity to test 1,500 people per day, but it is not being fully utilised at the moment,” he stated.
Ihekweazu also explained that those to be tested for COVID-19 were into three categories, that is, returning travellers showing fever and respiratory symptoms as well as contacts of returning travellers showing symptoms.
The other category, according to him, is those showing respiratory symptoms of unknown origin.
Also speaking during the briefing, Dr Sani Aliyu, the PTF National Coordinator, said that the main aim of the extension of the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT was to enable interruption of COVID-19 transmission.
Aliyu advised Nigerians to continue observing social distancing, especially as people would be observing religious practices during the forthcoming Ramadan.
The coordinator also appealed to banks to continue providing financial services, especially by ensuring the availability of cash at ATM points.
He urged states to ensure the establishment of, at least, 300-bed capacity centre each for the treatment of COVID-19 cases.