By Oluwafunke Ishola
A Virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has advised Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to utilise available laboratories with capacity for carrying out Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19 in the country.
Tomori, a former President, Nigeria Academy of Science, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos that this would increase the country’s testing capacity for the virus.
“NCDC should persuade the Federal Government to procure more test kits and stop depending on foreign donations, and ensure that all samples for laboratory tests come with investigation forms that has full details.
“It should regularly and exhaustively analyse laboratory data to include epidemiological information, conduct thorough monitoring and evaluation of all the labs conducting tests in the country,” the expert said.
According to him, NCDC should ensure that the laboratory sector gets a substantial part of the COVID-19 money flowing into the government coffers.
The virologist added that NCDC should also use the COVID-19 opportunity to lay a sustainable and reliable laboratory system for Nigeria to combat future epidemics.
Tomori, on his assessment of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said that the beginning could have been better, adding that Nigeria should have shut its border immediately after it recorded the first COVID-19 case.
“The beginning is not the main issue, where we end is more important, and we still have a chance to finish well,” he said.
Tomori said to further flatten the COVID-19 pandemic curve, the public should continue to engage in regular handwashing with soap and water, and keep at least six feet away from the next person as they practice social distance.
The expert added that good respiratory hygiene should be maintained, while sick people should promptly seek medical help.
He said that if Nigerians had disciplined themselves, like people of Sweden, the country might have avoided a lockdown during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, in true Swedish style, no one was out enforcing any of the Coronavirus guidelines, and the measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 was left to their individual’s sense of responsibility.
“Sweden has no Coronavirus lockdown, because according to reports, the Swedes have a high level of trust in the government and tend to follow its instructions.
“Compare Sweden with our country where there is mutual distrust between the government and the people, even under lockdown we still refused to comply.
“The government itself was not fully prepared for the lockdown, switching back and forth between staying at home and going to market for a few hours here and there.
“Each state was doing its own thing; Church on Easter Sunday and Mosque on Jumaat Friday, inconsistencies and incoordination between the Federal and State Governments,” he said.
The expert noted that the inconsistencies had affected the country, pointing out that Nigeria had 131 COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the lockdown, and ended with 343 cases after two weeks of lockdown.
“The lockdown was to have helped us slow down the epidemic and flatten the curve.
“Instead, we had more than two and a half time increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported between the start and the end of the lockdown.
“Those who think that the lockdown worked, they could argue that without the lockdown, we might have had more than 500 cases by now.
“Whatever, the lockdown was to have helped us ‘flatten’ the curve, instead, it looked as if COVID-19 is flattening us, especially as we have no more importation from outside the country, except, may be for Osun State.
“We are now in the stage of community transmission, and that is real and bad news,” Tomori said.