Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said only 12 out of 36 states were testing despite support from the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID), World Bank and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and others.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic, Boss Mustapha, stated this at Monday’s briefing in Abuja.
While calling on states to prioritize testing, the SGF stressed that, no state can complain of lacking in resources as all the national response has been targeted at supporting states embark on massive testing in other to help the nation flatten the curve.
The World Bank Board of Directors had in August approved a $114.28 financing to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 with a specific focus on state level responses.
This included $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14.28 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The Federal Government had recently disclosed how much it spent so far in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, out of the public funds and donations by individuals and corporate organizations.
It said it had spent N30,540,563,571.09 in four months to fight COVID-19, out of the N36.3 billion public funds and donations.
But speaking specifically on the states not testing, the SGF said the Federal Government has released N1 billion to 34 states with the exception of Lagos and Kano that got N10 billion and N5 billion respectively.
Mustapha reiterated that the only way to ensure that the gains of the past months are not eroded is for increased testing at the sub-national levels and adherence to the non-pharmaceutical measures on COVID-19.
The PTF chair also said that the task force would be multiplying testing for the virus during a planned ‘testing week’, in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Day Anniversary celebration.
He reiterated his appealed to Nigerians to be more vigilant at this time not to be infected, despite the improved national response.
On plan to have a testing week to mark the nation’s Diamond Anniversary, the SGF said the taskforce would intensify risk communication and community engagement.
He strssed the need to be more vigilant in order to keep safe.
“The call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Also, our health systems, in-spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful. Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era”, he said.
Mustapha also commended the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals (JOHESU) for suspending the industrial action called recently, charging the body permanently call the strike off.
He, however, emphasised the need for the states to ensure more testing were conducted as the country could not afford to allow fatigue set into the speed of fighting the spread of the virus, asking all Nigerians to play their role.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) has announced that in conjunction with Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting household surveys in four states in Nigeria to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
Dr. Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at ysterday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, said the surveys which will last from September to December, will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos States.
These seroprevalence, Ihekweazu explained will provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
“Seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease. This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states. For Nigeria’s COVID-19 seroprevalence survey, household members will answer a brief questionnaire, be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, as well as for acute COVID-19, if they consent.”