FG fails to explore testing options — Experts

Coronavirus 77.jpg

…Say Nigeria risks widespread infection
…Adds, Teaching hospitals, FMCs can be upgraded as testing centres

By Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale

Despite the continued rise in cases of coronavirus disease in Nigeria, the Federal Government has failed to upgrade or explore other laboratory testing options across the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.

Available information showed that till date, Nigeria can only boast of six medical laboratory centres that have the capacity to test for COVID-19.

Of the six laboratory centres, two are in Lagos, one in Abuja, one in Ogun, one in Osun, and one in Edo, while 32 states have no testing centres.

However, medical experts have expressed fears that with a total of 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as at March 28, 2020, if Nigeria fails to upgrade diagnostic centres in its 70 Teaching Hospitals, 22 Federal Medical Centres, FMCs, and over 20,000 General and Specialist Hospitals, the country risked a spread of the disease in communities.

Although, the World Health Organisation, WHO, placed emphasis on aggressive testing as the only way to manage the pandemic, experts say testing for COVID-19 had been a privileged opportunity.

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According to the national situation report published by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, as at midnight on March 26, only 846 people have been screened for COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chike Ihekwazu, said the centre was working hard to expand testing capacity for COVID-19.

He said: “We aim to scale up to 13 labs in the next three weeks. In progress are Abakaliki, Maiduguri, Kano, Sokoto, Port-Harcourt, Jos and Kaduna.”

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