The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that in terms of testing capacity for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19, pandemic the agency had targeted to test two million Nigerians in three months.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, disclosed this at the daily Presidential Task Force (PTF) Briefing on Tuesday in Abuja while giving an update on COVID-19 management in the country.
“The NCDC Laboratory Strategic Group has set itself a target of testing two million people across Nigeria in the next three months,” he said.
Iheakweazu disclosed that the two million would come to about 50,000 per state which, he noted, was a very ambitious target.
The director-general, reiterated that the NCDC was working very hard to equip its network of laboratories to be able to achieve the target in the country.
He said that this would cost a lot of money and also required a lot of collaboration.
“We are lagging behind in testing in Nigeria but now we have to catch up. We will need the support of all the states,” he appealed.
He noted that Nigerians should avoid all non-essential travel because the virus was now in 32 states across the country.
“It doesn’t fly about on its own from state to state; it is carried by humans.”
Iheakweazu, however, called on Nigerians to seek to limit transmission in the country by discouraging inter-state travel.
He disclosed that there was a longstanding World Health Organisation (WHO), Reference Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, adding that the scientists had a new COVID-19 test development at the Laboratory.
“When the media carry a story there‘s sometimes hyperbole. The test is not available yet, and it also won’t be that cheap; one dollar ($1) when it’s eventually developed,” he explained.
He, however, confirmed that the Molecular Laboratory at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano, was now back, open and carrying out tests on COVID-19.
Iheakweazu clarified the concern on some types of autopsy explaining that verbal autopsy was not new at all.
“It’s a long established way of establishing the cause of death in people, where they do not have the opportunity of doing a standard autopsy.
“Many reasons for ‘verbal autopsies’ in our context: sometimes no access to body samples and body fluids.
“It’s not a foolproof method, but it’s also not unique to Nigeria. There are WHO guidelines about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Sani Aliyu, PTF’s National Coordinator, has appealed to Nigerians who tested positive to COVID-19 to observe all recovery plans.
He said that even when they felt healthy, they should cooperate with authorities where they had to be isolated.