250,000 persons tested for COVID-19 — NCDC

The Federal Government has said that over 250,000 Nigerians have been tested so far for the COVID-19.

The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 52nd joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

He said there are now 59 laboratories with the capacity to test for COVID-19 across 29 states and the FCT, while two rapid diagnostic are near validation.

According to him, the centre is working to ensure that testing capacity is available in remaining states across the country and that the NCDC teams have been deployed to Zamfara, Kebbi, Gombe, and Taraba states.

“In a bid to scale up national testing, we are leveraging on existing laboratories and converting them to test for COVID-19.

“There are labs that existed for HIV testing, GeneXperts,” Ihekweazu said.

The NCDC DG said there are are 45 laboratories that can carry out real-time PTR testing across the country, while four mega PCR labs have been activated including two national reference lab and the defence reference lab in Abuja, one lab at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching hospital and another in Lagos.

He said that seven private laboratories have been activated in Lagos, while two are almost ready in Abuja.

He added that 13 GeneXperts have been activated in 10 states, out of the 400 available in the country.

On rapid diagnostic test kits, the DG said the centre has been working with the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria to validate a number of kits.

He said, “There are two that are showing good promise, the validation process is ongoing and in the next couple of weeks, we should be able to know if they are able to be included.”

Also speaking on the target to test two million people by the end of July, the DG said the testing in itself is not the goal, but that the goal is to to bring people into care through testing and enable contact tracing to happen for those who are positive and generally move the system along.

He, however, said that the government is carrying out between 3000 and 4000 tests daily.

On complaints from Nigerians over delay in getting COVID-19 test results, Ihekweazu said that an online platform is underway, where patients can access their results with a code to download their results once they get a message notification.

He said, “That platform is almost ready, we will be piloting it in Abuja first, once it demonstrates utility, we will scale it up across the country.”

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