Nigeria tested fewer people for coronavirus last week than it did the previous week, a PREMIUM TIMES’ review of data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows.
While Nigeria tested 17,497 people in the penultimate week, the country tested 14,174 people last week, a 19 per cent decrease.
The reduced testing was not because the country had reached its peak of the coronavirus curve and was dropping. In fact, up until the start of last week, Nigeria had witnessed three consecutive weeks of increase in coronavirus cases.
However, despite its reduced testing last week, Nigeria still recorded an increase, albeit a slight one, in its weekly new coronavirus cases. The country recorded 2,348 new cases of coronavirus last week compared to 2,329 cases the previous week, a 0.8 per cent increase
Commenting on the reduced testing, a development expert, Jibrin Ibrahim, blamed state governors who “control the sample.’
“NUMBERS GAME Every evening NCDC releases #COVID19 numbers, what do they mean? Samples are sent to labs by task forces controlled by State Governors. The labs can only test what they are given. He who controls the sample set controls the numbers. Governors want low numbers,” Mr Ibrahim wrote on Twitter, on Friday.
NUMBERS GAME Every evening NCDC releases #COVID19 numbers, what do they mean? Samples are sent to labs by task forces controlled by State Governors. The labs can only test what they are given. He who controls the sample set controls the numbers. Governors want low numbers.
— Jibrin Ibrahim (@JibrinIbrahim17) June 5, 2020
Mr Ibrahim is partly right. While the NCDC coordinates the process and releases the daily testing and other figures relating to COVID-19 nationwide, the state governments largely control the sample collection process.
But not all state governors are interested in reduced testing figures, a state governor replied Mr Ibrahim.
“You are partly right, sir. But not all states want ‘fake’ low numbers. FCT, Kaduna & Lagos States at least are actively tracing contacts because we want RIGHT numbers of those infected – to test, trace contacts & treat them. We want to save lives not have “unexplained deaths”!,” Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna State Governor replied Mr Ibrahim.
You are partly right, sir. But not all states want ‘fake’ low numbers. FCT, Kaduna & Lagos States at least are actively tracing contacts because we want RIGHT numbers of those infected – to test, trace contacts & treat them. We want to save lives not have “unexplained deaths”! https://t.co/kt8GqTyMm5
— Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (@elrufai) June 6, 2020
Kaduna, as of Saturday night, has the eighth highest number of coronavirus cases (337) in Nigeria.
The NCDC has so far collected 74,999 samples since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria in February.
However, the NCDC’s target of testing two million people in three months appears increasingly unrealistic as it is yet to test a hundred thousand persons six weeks after setting the target.
In its weekly review of the NCDC data, PREMIUM TIMES found that apart from the increase in the number of new infections last week, there was also a significant increase in recoveries.
A total of 970 patients recovered and were discharged last week, which represents a 29 per cent increase when compared to the 682 patients discharged in the previous week.
However, while recoveries increased, deaths also increased. A total of 69 new deaths were recorded across the country last week as against the 52 reported in the previous week, a 25 per cent increase.
Although Lagos State remains the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria, it recorded 974 new cases last week, the lowest in the past three weeks. Lagos recorded 1,389 cases in the penultimate week.
Kano State, which has the second-highest number of cases after Lagos, recorded 46 new cases last week, one of its lowest weekly figures in the past three weeks.
While Lagos and Kano witnessed a reduction last week, the figures were higher in some states like Edo, which recorded 103 new cases; Nasarawa, which reported 42 new cases, a 65 per cent increase; and the FCT, which had 296 new cases.
Nigeria so far
A total of 12,233 coronavirus cases have been confirmed across Nigeria. Of these, there are 8,065 active cases of COVID-19 in the country. A total of 3,826 people have recovered and have been discharged while 342 deaths have been recorded.
A breakdown of the 12, 233 confirmed cases shows that Lagos State has so far reported 5,729 cases, followed by Kano – 997, FCT – 912, Katsina – 387, Edo – 387, Oyo – 365, Borno – 348, Kaduna – 337, Ogun – 336, Rivers – 332, Jigawa – 290, Bauchi – 286, Gombe – 201, Delta – 148, Sokoto – 127, Kwara – 127, Plateau – 113, Nasarawa – 104, Ebonyi – 103, Zamfara – 76, Imo – 59, Yobe – 52, Osun 49, Akwa Ibom – 45, Adamawa – 42, Niger – 42, Ondo – 40, Kebbi – 35, Enugu – 30, Bayelsa – 30, Anambra – 29, Ekiti – 25, Taraba – 18, Abia–16, Benue – 13, and Kogi – 3.
Meanwhile, out of the 36 states and the FCT, only Cross River is yet to record a single case of the infection.
The state governor, Ben Ayade, was initially reluctant to allow residents to be tested for the virus.
However, the state government has now appealed for financial support from the federal government to help the state fight the spread of coronavirus.
Timeline last week
On Sunday, 307 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country.
On Monday, 416 new cases of the virus were reported in the country. This brought the tally of confirmed cases to 10,578 as of 11:55 p.m. on June 1.
On Tuesday, 241 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded.
A total of 348 new cases of the virus were reported on Wednesday which brought the number of confirmed cases to 11,166.
The NCDC figures, as of 11:55 p.m. on June 3, showed that 3,329 patients had been discharged while 315 had died.
On Thursday, 350 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country.
On Friday, 328 new cases were reported in Nigeria, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 11,844 as of 11:55 p.m. on June 5.
On Saturday, 389 new cases of the virus were recorded.
In all, a total of 12,233 cases have been reported, out of which 3,826 have recovered and 342 have died.
Despite the increasing figures, the federal government has commenced plans to ease movement restrictions.
Last week, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the lifting of the ban on religious gatherings.
The PTF, however, urged worshippers to wear face masks, check their temperature, and not allow a service to last beyond an hour.
Many state governments have since been reeling out conditions for religious houses to re-open.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced a review of the nationwide curfew from 8 p.m.- 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Also, according to the National Coordinator of the PTF, Sani Aliyu, the ban on interstate movement may be lifted on June 21 as domestic flights are expected to also resume on the same date.
With the plans to resume academic activities and further ease the restrictions, concerns may be raised about the effect of going back to normal life with little or no regard for the social distancing rules and other protocols by citizens.