Abuja, Kano, Lagos, others receive 35,000 COVID-19 test kits from FMN
… As firm initiates importation of 25,000 additional test kits
As part of efforts to ramp up testing capacity for coronavirus across Nigeria, the Flour Mills of Nigeria Group (FMN) says it has distributed 35,000 testing kits to Abuja, Kano, Lagos and some other Nigerian states.
With COVID-19 cases in the country now in the 3,000 range, and most lockdowns relaxed across the country, ramping up testing has become imperative in order to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
The distribution of kits which, according to a statement by the company, was done through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), was targeted at states mostly in need of the kits.
Media reports had noted that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, while at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said Kano State (which is one of the beneficiaries of the FMN testing kits) had become the epicentre of coronavirus in the North.
It was also reported that the Lagos State government was battling with a shortage of reagents, while the Federal Capital Territory was said to be facing a shortage of test kits.
Donations such as the one now done by FMN could offer a lifeline to these states where testing capacity is becoming challenged.
This is even as the company says it is in the process of importing additional 25,000 testing kits to bolster Nigeria’s capacity to contain the pandemic.
Boye Olusanya, the Group’s chief operating officer, said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the distributed kits were part of the $1.5 million COVID-19 equipment and kits procured by FMN to assist Nigeria.
He reiterated that the company had already ordered additional 25,000 test kits to beef up its distribution and to reach other states that had yet to be supported.
According to a breakdown of distribution made available to BusinessDay, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) got 13,000 test kits delivered to NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa and its Defence Reference Laboratory.
A total of 10,000 kits were delivered to Lagos State: 3,000 to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, 3,000 to 54Gene Research, 2,000 to the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, and 2,000 to the Lagos Biobank Laboratory.
In Kano, 5,000 kits were distributed to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the Bayero University Kano. The state was also supported with ‘Lab in A Box’, a kit that is used for rapid testing in remote locations.
For Kaduna State, 1,500 kits were delivered to the DNA Laboratory while the Irrua Teaching Hospital in Edo got 1,000 test kits.
Oyo State’s University College Hospital Virology Laboratory got 2,000 kits while the African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemers University in Osun State got 1,000 kits.
According to Olusanya, apart from the $1.5m equipment and kits as well as the additional 25,000 kits already ordered, John Coumantaros, FMN’s chairman, had also redeemed his pledge of N1 billion to the government and released N400m for food reliefs to Nigerian communities.
He stressed that the agro and food giant which has operated for 60 years in Nigeria is poised to help the nation beef up its response to COVID-19 and also support poor communities with food supplies.
“To reduce the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, FMN will continue to work with the Federal Government and related agencies to provide relief materials. This includes a fresh order of 25,000 test kits, bring the total number of test kits donated to the Nigerian Government by the FMN Group to 60,000,” he said. “The safety of Nigerians is paramount to us, so we encourage all Nigerians to adhere to the necessary protective measures against the virus and its spread.”