The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), has urged the Federal Government to utilise all community structures for contact-tracing and sample collection to check the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr Patrick Dakum, the institute’s Chief Executive Officer, gave the advice on Saturday in Abuja.
Dakum said that the government should engage the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), State Agencies for the Control of AIDS (SACAs), Primary Health Care, (PHC) structures under National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHCDA), among others.
He said that these agencies had critical roles to play as the country experienced community spread of the virus.
He explained that most of them could be used as sample collection sites.
“Everyone coming into a PHC with respiratory symptoms should have samples taken for COVID-19 virus.
“All PHCs should have capacity for sample collection and adequate data-driven logistics,” he said.
“The geographical spread of the contacts will provide a rough estimate of communities at higher risk. Geo-mapping of index cases and their contacts is key.
“The virus is highly infectious and can spread when contacted from someone who has it.
“Therefore, we must ensure that both primary and secondary persons who are in contact with someone who is exposed are traced.”
Dakum stressed the need for continuous community sensitisation about the current pandemic.
According to him, communities must sensitise their members that COVID-19 is real and someone can be infected through close contact with another person.
He said that although maintaining social distancing was very difficult in densely populated areas, the directive should not be relaxed until the virus was contained.
He stressed the need for intensive campaigns to be carried out in the communities on disinfection of surfaces and regular washing of hands.
Dakum said that the surge in infections of the virus could be handled with quick detection, isolation and treatment.
He called on the elderly and those with underlining diseases to be cautious as the virus could easily knock off their natural defence.