Coronavirus: Nigeria opens another test site, recruits medical lab scientists

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) leads the charge on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

Nigeria now has seven functional laboratories to test for the Covid-19 virus, the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said on Wednesday.

The latest is the virology laboratory of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi, which has been activated, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said in a tweet.

The laboratory in Abakaliki is the second laboratory upgraded and added to the list of laboratories for Covid-19 in the country within the last six days.

The second is located at the University College Hospital Ibadan, Oyo State.

The NCDC said other diagnostic centres are being upgraded in Maiduguri, Kano, Sokoto, Port Harcourt, Jos and Kaduna.

The health minister, Mr Ehanire, said the government is increasing test sites with hope of even further increase when human resources are mobilised for round-the-clock shift duties.

“A call is hereby issued for certified public health laboratory scientists, including retirees, to indicate readiness for duty by sending an email to NCDC or using the call lines,” he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Nigeria has recorded 151 cases of Covid-19 in 12 states across the country.

Lagos state has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country with 82 cases, FCT – 28, Osun – 14, Oyo – 8, Ogun – 4, Edo – 4, Kaduna – 3, Enugu – 2, Bauchi – 2, Ekiti – 2, while Rivers and Benue have one case each.

Increasing capacity

The NCDC boss Chikwe Ihekweazu said that the focus of all their efforts is to improve and increase testing.

“Last week we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1000 a day. By next week we are hoping to get to 1500 a day,” he said.

Mr Ihekweazu on Monday warned that cases of Covid-19 are expected to rise in the country.

“We expect cases of Covid-19 to rise as we improve capacity to detect and test. Our labs are activated to function 24/7,” he said.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians have accused the government of not testing enough while some have accused the government of selective testing of government officials and politicians.

However, Mr Ihekweazu on Tuesday said that there are systematic numbers of people that can be tested at the moment.

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Mr Ihekweazu explained that the country cannot afford to be testing everyone because the kit would not be enough and the people who need it might eventually not be tested.

“By testing those that don’t need it, we are blocking the system and there’s a price to pay,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ehanire said no Rapid Diagnostic Tests offered in the open market have been validated by the World Health Organization.

The seven testing centres in Nigeria are:

The NCDC national reference laboratory, Gaduwa, Abuja

The Virology Laboratory of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos State

Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State

Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos State

African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Osun State

The Virology laboratory of the University College, Ibadan, Oyo State

The virology laboratory of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State


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