By Bolaji Ogundele and Moses Emorinken, Abuja
Nigerians will soon have the opportunity of knowing their status within 30 minutes of undergoing COVID-19 test, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said yesterday.
The agency said Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits will be deployed in general and tertiary hospitals.
It said the decision was predicated on the success recorded in using RDTs to test National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in their camps.
The RDTs typically give test result within a maximum 30 minutes, unlike the PCR machines that can take between 24 to 72 hours or more to diagnose COVID-19 samples.
Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, represented by Director of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, added: Following the successful use of the RDT kits that were used during the NYSC camping, we also have plans to roll out the RDT in the hospitals, especially to the general and tertiary hospitals, to test health workers and patients in line with our guidelines.
“Now we are having increasing infections among health workers. We are appealing to our health workers not to let their guards down and make sure that they adhere to the infection prevention and control measures to prevent themselves from getting infected.”
The NCDC chief added: “The number of new cases is rising and it is alarming. We have to be very careful. Over the last week, we have done over 40,000 tests and we have increased the national testing. Increasing the national testing is the only way we can understand the burden of the disease, particularly now that we are recording very high cases.
“The reality of the increasing transmission is the test positive rate and the number of confirmed cases giving a cause for concern. It is important that we strictly adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions, and that includes the proper wearing of our masks, practice regular hand-washing and maintain physical distance.”
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, represented by the Director of Hospital Services in the Ministry, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, stated: “As at today (yesterday), 92,705 cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed in Nigeria with 76,396 cases successfully treated and discharged. 1,319 deaths have been recorded.
“We have now crossed the one million mark having tested 1,004,915 samples.
“All our laboratories are functioning and have been supplied with enough test kits and consumables. States have been supplied with sample collection kits. What is left is for citizens to present themselves for testing. If you have symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, cough, sudden loss of taste and smell or fever, please visit a sample collection site nearest to you and get tested.”
Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, lamented Nigerians’ nonchalant attitude to the virus.
He said: “As the government is working round the clock to secure a safe and right vaccines for the country, we call on the media, traditional and religious as well as our community leaders, to pass the right message to their followers so that together, we can win this war against this virus.
“To overcome some of these challenges, the PTF will intensify the risk communication and community engagement to create awareness. The share level of doubts about the virus is alarming and I call on every one to become advocates in support of the National Response.-
According to him, on Wednesday, Nigeria recorded 1,664 infections, which is an all-time high.
“It is better to wear a face mask than being on a ventilator. We have consistently appealed to all Nigerians to stay safe and act in most defensive and protective ways by complying with the NPIs already prescribed. We urge you all, at this point, to rise and be our brother’s keeper by taking the expected responsibility. Remind your neighbour to do the right thing in view of the imminent danger facing us as a country and the world in general.
“Our records show that our test per million (TPM) is at 4,695 while our test positivity rate (TPR) is at 9.6 per cent and our Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has increased to three per cent haven recorded 1,324 deaths, these data are not encouraging,” the SGF said.
No vaccination priority for politicians
The Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has explained that the Federal Government is not prioritising politicians when the virus vaccine is made available.
Dr. Shuaib said frontline health care workers, strategic leaders, and the vulnerables – the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, will be the priority targets to receive the vaccine this year.
He explained that by ‘strategic leaders’, he was not referring to politicians, but to critical leaders like the President, Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and others, who will take the vaccine publicly to show that they are safe for Nigerians.
Speaking during the PTF on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja, he said, “In terms of the prioritisation, yes I mentioned that we are prioritising health workers and some strategic country leaders. I would like to see a situation where the President, Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and other critical leaders come and take the vaccines in the full glare of the public to demonstrate that this vaccine is safe.
“So we have to make provisions for those. Even in developed countries, we have seen that apart from the prioritisation of health workers, you have to also identify critical leaders that you don’t want to be wiped away by the virus. As much as possible, we also do not want to leave our leaders vulnerable to covid-19, and it doesn’t mean that we want to prioritise politicians – that is not correct.”