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Reps Deputy Minority Leader says 2,000 Coronavirus tests per month insufficient

...Calls for more centres to track 6000 contacts

The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, has observed that the 2,000 coronavirus tests so far carried out in Nigeria per month is insufficient.

Okechukwu therefore called for the upgrade of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratories across the country to facilitate mass-testing for the deadly virus.

The Minority Leader in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday noted that as laudable as it was to lockdown parts of the country, keep people indoors, and track over 6,000 contacts, the country must also rapidly ramp up its testing capabilities to expand beyond the current seven test centres.

“The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has told us that only 2,000 Nigerians have been tested in over one month of combating COVID-19. This figure is quite low for a country of about 200 million people.

“Our first line of responsibility on this, therefore, is to ensure that testing services are available in at least all the states of the federation. If we are tracking over 6,000 contacts, then we need more testing facilities.,” he noted.

“We just have to scale it up across the country to enable us ascertain the true extent of the outbreak in the country. Let us know how many Nigerians that are exposed, let us isolate, and let us test maximally”.

Okechukwu consequently urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus to urgently upgrade the 34 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratories to COVID-19 testing centres.

He thanked all the donors and urged the Presidential Task Force to be project-specific with the donations and pay attention to such facility upgrades.

The Deputy Minority Leader also noted the need for timelines for proper evaluation of progress, even as he acknowledged that as with other parts of the world, the virus seems to be dictating the timeline.

He stressed that the nation should work towards setting timelines so that Nigerians are able to monitor progress and match it with expended resources.

“There are critical aspects here, such as prevention, testing, tracking, isolation, case management, dealing with the social interventions, and of course evaluation.

For instance, how many Nigerians do we intend to test by the end of April? How many new testing centres are we expecting?” he added.

Okechukwu commended the joint efforts of all Nigerians in the public and private sectors, especially the nation’s healthcare professionals, who he said were in the frontlines of the war against the pandemic.

The Minority Leader further called on all Nigerians to adhere to all the guidelines and directives issued by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and various levels of government to stop the spread of the virus.

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