Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic has disclosed that the country’s testing and tracing capabilities have improved and that daily testing capacity now stands at about 3,500.
This, it said is due to the fact that every state in the country and the FCT now has at least one molecular laboratory.
This is even as it has urged Port Health Workers to be on alert to guard against possible importation of COVID-19.
It has also expressed serious concern with the second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in several European countries and across the Atlantic, especially as it is coming on the heels of what was believed to have been control they gained over the disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this at Thursday’s media briefing in Abuja.
“Our testing and tracing capabilities have improved a lot, such that virtually every state has least one laboratory that has increased our daily testing capacity to about 3,500. We are, however testing well below that capacity, because laboratories are receiving fewer samples than they could handle, leaving some partners to doubt our reports. I therefore appeal to state governments to improve on sample collection and capacity utilization. All persons with COVID evocative symptoms, or who may have come in contact with a confirmed covid case should please submit themselves for testing.
“We are especially worried, about huge COVID increases in certain countries with which we have high volume of human traffic. The Federal Ministry of Health therefore wishes to advise Nigerians against non-essential travel to high burden countries.
“The risks that the movement of travelers create, can only be countered with improved surveillance programmes. I wish to specially solicit that all travelers cooperate with border authorities to protect our people and also our health system from stress.
“We are obliged to reduce the risk of COVID importation to a minimum. As at 26th September, out of a total of 1,473 Persons of Interest (POI) tested across 3 laboratories in the FCT since the opening of the international travel air space, 22 tested positive.”
The health ministry noted that somecountries have been compelled to introduce stricter social restrictions like closure of restaurants, bars, prohibition of gatherings of more than six persons, compulsory wearing of masks outdoors, targeted lockdowns, etc., to address sharp increase in COVID cases. He also noted that a few countries, with strong Health systems, are showing stress and having to transfer patients to other hospitals.
Ehanire announced that the Federal Ministry of Health will organize a Primary Health Summit in the second week of November to unveil the President’s agenda on Basic Health Care and the areas of emphasis in the march to Universal Health Coverage.
“The Basic Health Care Provision Fund is in full operation and all eligible States have received their allocations. The BHCPF 2020 Manual will be formally presented on that date. Details will follow in due course.”