The Federal Government of Nigeria has said it will be testing 4, 000 persons daily for Coronavirus as it sets to build isolation centers at borders.
The Government says it would build isolation centres near the nation’s entry ports and borders in order to screen and isolate infected Nigerians for 14 days under government’s supervision.
According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Tuesday, 14th April, in Abuja at the 11th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire said this is President Muhammadu Buhari mandated the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) — to conduct 4,000 tests per day.
Ehanire said: “There are Nigerians coming by road who have to be allowed in; the protocol is to screen them and isolate them for 14 days under Government supervision.”
He also said that the United Nations (UN) medical equipment and supplies, including 50 ventilators with $2 have arrived the country.
“They (UN donation) are being moved from Lagos to Abuja today. We will mobilize critical care doctors to every state to help set up ICUs and operate these ventilators,” he said.
On his part, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the Isolation Centers had been mandated to increase testing in Lagos to 2,000, FCT 1,000 and the rest of the country 1,000 per day. He, however, said despite having 11 treating centers currently, the labs were being under utilized.
“We now have the capacity to test 1,500 people per day across the network. This capacity is not being fully utilized at the moment. The challenge right now is not the laboratory testing capacity, it is how active our public workforce is in identifying samples, collecting and sending them for testing.”
“We have sufficient capacity to test 1,500 right now and we are not close to exhausting that capacity every day. But from today, we have to push even harder. Our target following Mr. President’s speech is to get 2,000 samples per day in Lagos, 1,000 in Abuja and 1,000 for the rest of the country.”
“These are targets we have agreed and we will push up. If we don’t create more light into what we are doing, we don’t really understand where we are. The challenge is no longer with the labs, the challenge is in collecting samples from those identified as suspect cases.”
On how long COVID-19 testing takes in Nigeria, Ihekweazu said it takes 12 hours to report on negative case, longer periods for positive cases because the tests have to be repeated for re-confrmation, thus on the whole, 12-24 hours is required from sample arrival at Labs, to result readiness.
The NCDC boss said that the goal of the lockdown is not to completely stop the outbreak, saying that will be difficult but instead to show that the nation can maintain sufficient levels of public health response within the context of a slowly-calibrated reopening of the economy and that the committee now have two weeks to prove this.