Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Taskforce Force (PTF) on Coronavirus (COVID-19) said it has been mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to conduct 4,000 tests per day.
Director-General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this disclosure at the 11th joint national briefing of the PTF on COVID-19 yesterday.
He said they have been mandated to increase testing in Lagos to 2,000, FCT 1,000 and the rest of the country 1,000 per day.
He, however, said despite having 11 treating centres currently, the labs were being under utilised.
Ihekweazu said: “We now have the capacity to test 1,500 people per day across the network. This capacity is not being fully utilized at the moment.
“The challenge right now is not the laboratory testing capacity is how active our public workforce is in identifying samples, collecting and sending them for testing.
“We have sufficient capacity to test 1,500 right now and we are not close to exhausting that capacity every day. But from today we have to push even harder. Our target following Mr. President’s speech is to get 2,000 samples per day in Lagos, 1,000 in Abuja and 1,000 for the rest of the country. These are targets we have agreed and we will push up. If we don’t create more light into what we are doing we don’t really understand where we are.
“The challenge is no longer with the labs, the challenge is in collecting samples from those identified as suspect cases.”
On how long COVID19 testing takes in Nigeria said the NCDC boss said: “It takes 12 hours to report on negative case, longer for positive cases because we have to do repeat tests to confirm. So, on the whole, 12-24 hours from sample arrival at Labs, to result readiness.”
Ihekweazu also said goal of the lockdown is not to completely stop the outbreak saying, “that’ll be difficult but instead to show that we can maintain sufficient levels of public health response within the context of a slowly-calibrated reopening of the economy. We now have two weeks to prove this.”