State governors have been urged to prioritise COVID-19 tests in the 85 Local Government Areas in 20 states left out of testing for the virus and which have yet to report any case.
The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the passionate appeal on Thursday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“So we want to appeal to our states to prioritize testing and want Nigerians also to come forward for testing.
“We know sometimes we look at stigmatization, people say they don’t want to go to the testing sites because they will be stigmatized,” he said.
“Today’s focus is on sample collection. Since the beginning of the response our strategy has been trace, test, isolate and treat.
“It is only by doing this that we are able to know the burden of COVID-19 in the country. And so with a country as populated as ours, it’s not been easy, but we have to continue to push.
“In line with our national strategy we have rapidly called up our laboratory testing capacity Nationwide. As at today, we have 63 laboratories that are testing for COVID in the country.
“We have leveraged on the existing laboratories in the country including other programs, other diseases laboratories and private laboratories to set of this laboratories.
“In addition to accessibility and improving the turnaround time of our result, our aim is to expand our national testing capacity which we have achieved,” the NCDC DG said.
He added: “We have also supported states to set of sample collection sites.
However, our current situation is that testing labs are underutilized and that is because you are not collecting enough samples for the labs to test.
“I think it was mentioned earlier that since the Sallah break, some of our confirmed cases have been very low compared to what we have been having before but this is not because the numbers are getting low but because we’re not collecting enough samples.
“If you notice, the number of samples collected during Salah was very low and we believe it was because of the festival season some labs even went on break, it should not have been.
“So we are working with the states to quickly address this so that we do not have this kind of situation again.
“Now what do we want? We want every local government to have a sample collection sites in the country.
“We started the pilots in FCT where we have various sample collection sites within the FCT and that’s what we want to expand to other states and let’s have sample collection sites in each local government in the country and that will help us to be able to collect enough samples and all the local government will be covered.”