Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced theexpansion of testing centres for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Centre said that two laboratories have been added to existing ones currently being used for testing purposes.
Nigeria currently tests for COVID-19 at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease at Redeemers’ University, Ede, Osun State; NCDC National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Gaduwa, Abuja; Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos; Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, Lagos; Irrua Teaching Hospital, Edo State; and the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
NCDC in a tweet late Saturday night said: “We have expanded the number of laboratories with the capacity to test for COVID-19 to six with the inclusion of the Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.
“Tomorrow (Sunday), we will be in Abakaliki to set up another laboratory as we quickly ramp up Covid-19 testing capacity in Nigeria.”
Before now, Nigerians have called for an expansion of the testing centres to allow for more people to run the test, but government has complained about a shortage of PCR machines and reagents that are used in conducting the COVID-19 test.
Meanwhile, the President, College of Nigerian Pathologists, Prof. Phillip Olatunji, in a statement released in Abuja on Saturday, indicated that his colleagues are dissatisfied with the restriction of COVID-19 testing centres to a few locations across Nigeria, even when many tertiary hospitals have the capacity for accurate testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and suggested that governments substantially decentralize the testing centres as a strategy to accelerate the control of the outbreak.
He said that his colleagues have in their various capacities played leadership roles in case identification, case management and development of guidelines and protocol for infection prevention and control of COVID-19, but are unhappy that government never consider them in certain professional engagements.
He said: “We do not see reasons why our tertiary healthcare centres where competent pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are situated, cannot carry out COVID-19 tests.
“It’s important and urgent that Federal and State governments should deploy a portion of the COVID-19 budget to bridge whatever deficiencies exist in tertiary diagnostic laboratories.”