STATES ARE NOT CONDUCTING ENOUGH COVID-19 TESTS DESPITE CAPACITY TO DO SO, HEALTH MINISTER CRIES OUT

Moses Emorinken, Abuja

 

STATES are not doing enough COVID-19 tests despite the increased capacity, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control said on Monday.

As at the last count, there are 71 molecular laboratories in the country excluding the accredited private hospitals where COVID-19 tests can be conducted.

Apart from not collecting many samples and conducting enough tests, many states are no longer filing reports on the tests to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The PTF said yesteron Monday that only 13 states reported their figures in the last 24 hours (on Sunday).

It warned that although the number of confirmed cases are low, it is not a basis to draw any conclusion that the country is flattening the curve of the disease.

Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who spoke during the PTF on briefing, said: “Seventy-nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection were reported in the past 24 hours from 13 states of the Federation, bringing the total number of known cases as of today 14th September, 2020 to 56,256 out of a total of number of 442,075 tests conducted. 44,152 persons have been treated and discharged while 1,082 have sadly been lost to COVID-19.

“Though we continue to record declining positivity rates every day, we are reluctant to conclude that we are halting the spread of disease, because some states have not sustained the testing rate that would give us more assurance. Only 13 States, for example, reported their figures in the past 24 hours. This can be better.

“Until all parts of the country can sustain a certain testing rate, it would seem presumptuous to conclude that we are flattening the curve. In the words of Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), we are not safe until everyone is safe. I therefore again request our state governments to ramp up the testing momentum, so that we can together get control of the spread of this disease in our country.”

He added, “The entire surveillance diagnostics and response is inter-related. The NCDC is responsible for surveillance and diagnostics mainly. They support the in other activities. The states governments are the one that begin the actual activity of collecting samples, working out the surveillance, contact tracing etc. So there is an interdependency there.

“Not all the laboratories belong to the NCDC. The job of the NCDC is largely to coordinate. The interdependency means that there must be sample collection and testing going on. The NCDC can only report what it gets.”

Head of Disease Surveillance at the NCDC, Elsie Ilori, who represented the Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu,  added: “It is what the states give to you that you get. We have a platform where they report; sending their electronic reporting to us. Some of the states have issues with their laboratories and they are not testing. What we tell them is to send samples to our national reference lab and they test for you.

“Some states are still struggling to get people to come for their samples to be collected. But we are working with the States. Those that do not have active cases does not mean that they are not working. You can collect samples and not have a confirmed case among the samples collected.

“We are really monitoring the States to make sure that they do what they’re supposed to do. We want to ensure that all LGAs have sample collection sites, and then we encourage our people to come out and get tested.”

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