Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has assured that it does not deploy tests kits without validation. Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated this while responding to a question amid concerns that despite the fact that Spain and other countries are returning defective COVID-19 test kits to China, Nigeria was welcoming them with open arms.
Chinese authorities recently announced it would investigate Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology following an accusation that it sold defective COVID-19 test kits to the Czech Republic and Spain at marked-up costs.
Speaking at the Friday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he said: “We never deploy anything without validating its use. The Jack Ma test kits are being evaluated at the moment, once we are sure the results are the same quality as what we have been seeing from existing tests, we will deploy them.”
He also said contact tracing has improved with the lockdown helping states like Lagos in recording tremendous success. According to him, “All the focus this week has been to improve the levels of contact tracing, taking advantage of the lockdown. In Lagos, the lockdown has been especially helpful for our contact tracing.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said 18 Chinese doctors are on their way to Nigeria with medical supplies including ventilators, to assist in flatting the curve of the pandemic. He explained that a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria have donated medical supplies to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.
The items expected include commodities such as personal protective equipment and ventilators. “I have been notified of medical supplies from China, courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working here in Nigeria. A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items, which include commodities, personal protective equipment and ventilators.
“An 18-man team of Chinese medical experts including doctors, nurses and other medical advisers shall come along with the flight to assist us. I must at this juncture commend our frontline workers who are doing a great job in case identification and management.
“As we prepare to contain COVID-19, we must not lose sight of other health challenges in our country. Routine health service must continue in our hospitals. Only a wing of tertiary health centres should be used for infected patients.”
The minister said nearly 3,000 samples have been tested for the disease, adding that Nigeria will witness an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases despite the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the NCDC has said Nigeria now has eight laboratories to conduct sample tests for the Coronavirus. Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC, made this known on Friday in Abuja. “One more testing laboratory opened in Lagos today(Friday). Nigeria now has eight laboratories for testing for Covid-19. The new Lab is the Biosecurity Facility in Lagos State. So Lagos now has three Labs. Later today we will activate a Lab in Abuja, and then Kano will be next,” he said.
He assured Nigerians the centre would conduct tests for the Covid-19 across the country quickly without compromising on standards. Ihekweazu said that as much as speed was important, “accuracy” was also important, and the nation has to find a balance.
Earlier, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, appealed to law enforcement agencies to deploy tact and caution in the course of enforcing the lockdown order, even, in the face of provocation.
“We similarly appeal to all Nigerians to be law abiding, exercise patience and self-restraint. The message from Mr President is that no Nigerian should on account of these rules suffer any harm or pains during this period or at any time in our national life. To the Nigerian traders and business men and women, we appeal to you not hike prices of goods and commodities, during this period as our compassionate nature must prevail.”