Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that the daily laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19 has been increased to 2,500 in the 15 molecular diagnosis laboratories across the country.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, revealed Thursday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19.
“The active community transmission is illustrated by the increasing number of confirmed persons who have COVID-19. This is a major challenge and necessitates a call on all citizens to take COVID-19 infection seriously, and take ownership of their health and strictly adhere to public health advisories.
“Federal Ministry of Health has brought in manpower capacity from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to strengthen and integrate risk communication with the planned training for primary healthcare workers.
“This ensures that health services remain accessible at the primary health care facilities while ensuring that our citizens and health workers are safe. NPHCDA will anchor community engagement and mobilisation for COVID-19, awareness and test demand creation.
“The daily laboratory testing capacity has now increased to 2,500 in 15 laboratories. If you suspect COVID-19, call the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toll-free number for a test,” the Minister said.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, explained that it will no longer wait for persons who suspect they have the virus to call the agency, but its staff will now be going into communities to actively find and test people that fit its case definition.
In response to questions on the circulating Infectious Disease Bill, DG @Chikwe_I:
I recognise the good intentions of @HouseNGR. I came across the Bill yesterday. It will benefit from more stakeholder consultation. Middle of a crisis may not be best time to introduce a new Bill pic.twitter.com/6J1kExwlIZ
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) April 30, 2020
“We are in the process of scaling up testing across the country and the key component that has changed in this, at least in Lagos, Abuja and Kano, instead of waiting for people to call us, we are now going to where the patients are.
“We have set up specific testing locations, of course in collaboration and under the leadership of the states in these three states to increase the throughput of samples being collected from cases that actually do meet the case definition.
“We are not waiting for patients to come but we are going into the community, health centres to identify people that need this case definition and bring them in. we are doing this because we are now fairly certain that we do have ongoing community transmission, especially in these three cities.
“Our response strategies and adaptive one and we adapt to the circumstances in every state of cities where the nature of transmission changes.
“These changes mean that more and more people will be going into the community. It means that for us to go into your community you have to accept us and be willing to support the Healthcare worker and do not stigmatize them or the community in which they do their work.
“We really need Nigerians to support the work that they do and not stigmatize them. Currently, we are living with COVID-19, but not the way we thought about it during the HIV era. This is about communities. “How can we as a country manage this as we transit into the next weeks? As we release the guidelines for implementing the non-pharmaceutical intervention that will be released very soon, we are doing this in the context of rising cases. We have to recognise that we still have cases and we have start-up some level of activity.
“In order to balance these two, we have to find a way of living with this disease and living in such a way that we can control it and continue aggressively responding to it. This will need the collaboration of all of us.”