COVID-19: NCDC to increase testing – official

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it remains focused on the fight against  the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.

The agency said on Monday in Abuja  that it would  increase testing for the virus across the country as a strategy to succeed.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, gave the re-assurance  at the daily briefing by Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“I will like to remind everyone that we remain  focused on our target which is to increase testing across the country; during a pandemic, the risk of spread is in those towns where the population density is highest.

“We are all aware of the population density in Kano. The high number of cases we are now seeing in Kano is really not a surprise,” he said.

“Since reporting its index case about two weeks ago, Kano has been the centre of controversies ranging from the rapid increase in number of confirmed cases to the sudden halt of its only testing centre.

“Kano, which currently stands as the third hardest-hit state in Nigeria has so far reported 77 cases out of the 1,273 cases of the infection Nigeria,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that NCDC was also working hard to investigate the cause of some  deaths in the state.

He said that the agency did everything possible to activate the Kano laboratory.

The  director-general said that the laboratory, domiciled at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, hosted many northern states.

“I am happy to announce that the Kano laboratory will start working this afternoon and start testing samples again as it should be.

”This has not been an easy effort. It has taken the collective effort of my team, the laboratory scientists in Kano and many people that have quietly worked on this to make it happen.

”We will not stop until the laboratory is fully functional again, ” he said.

He noted that there were concerns about happenings in Kano, saying that efforts were  being made to address the issues.

“We want to address the Kano issue headlong. We are very concerned about what is happening in the state but there is no magic bullet. We will continue to work hard,” he said.

The NCDC boss clarified that his request on twitter was not for testing kits but for extraction kits.

“ We appreciate the people who have responded positively.

” Some had it in their warehouses and it came up handy for us to work with.

“This is a time for leadership, solidarity and not the time to point fingers. We understand it is a marathon and not a sprint, “ he said.

Ihekweazu disclosed that NCDC had  approved a company, 54gene, to test in the private sector.

He said that the NCDC had set up the process and hoped to continue to  grow in its network of private laboratories across the country.

While fielding questions on  Senegal’s testing kits, he said that the agency would look into it.

Ihekweazu noted that Cross River, Kogi, Nasarawa and Yobe were the only states that had yet to confirm  any COVID-19 case.

He said that the  NCDC was not satisfied with the rate of testing in the states