Coalition orders 400,000 testing kits for fight against COVID-19
• Plans distribution of food palliatives to 1.7 million households
Efforts to increase Nigeria’s testing capacity received a boost yesterday, as a private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), announced that it has ordered for the supply of 250,000 tests kits and additional 150,000 extraction kits to fast-track molecular testing for the Coronavirus.
Already, 10,000 test kits, out of the 250,000 have arrived as at Thursday, April 16, the group said, adding that shipment receipt for the rest is expected in the next few weeks.
CACOVID has so far realised about N25.8billion from institutions and individuals across the country to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, even as more contributions are expected from members of the group to support the action.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, the group disclosed that no fewer than 1.7 million households would benefit from its food relief package as part of complementary efforts to help alleviate the effects of the lockdown and restrictions adopted by governments across the nation.
The coalition said it has also set up isolation centres in five states of Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Borno and Enugu as well as FCT, while renovations of hospitals and medical supplies are being carried out in other states.
Specifically, the Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Zouera Youssoufou, explained that all the partners in CACOVID are ready to roll out in all parts of the country having commenced building and equipping of isolation centres in some states.
According to her, there are currently three testing platforms for molecular testing in Nigeria, one of which is the “Open PCR machines”, which the Coalition has ordered for 10 units, with eight laboratories certified to conduct COVID-19 tests.
Youssoufou said: “Open PCR machine is currently the standard platform. Eight labs in Nigeria are certified to conduct COVID-19 testing; 10 new PCR machines and 150,000 extraction kits have been ordered.
“The other is Roche Cobus platform with six machines in Nigeria, each capable of testing 960 tests at a time. Nigeria was on track to receive 38,000, but we have ordered 250,000. Also, 10,000 tests ordered have arrived on Thursday, April 16. The shipment of the testing kits comes in every 10 days on a UNICEF plane that literally flies them into Abuja, from where the dispatch happens.
“We also have Cepheid Gene Expert Machines – there are 400 machines installed in the country. 250 are expected to be functional with trained lab technicians. Cepheid has developed a COVID-19 testing cartridge that has received FDA approval, and will begin shipping to Africa in two weeks. We have ordered 250,000 cartridges and expect shipment receipt in two weeks.”
In his remarks, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said the Coalition right from the onset knew the fight against Coronavirus was not going to be easy but would require collaborative efforts from all.
He said the CACOVID-19 is approaching the fight against the virus from three levels – “One, it was clear from beginning that no one institution can go it alone, so we solicit everybody’s cooperation in tackling this scourge. Two, while several measures are being taken to stop the spread, including lockdowns, restriction, social distancing, there is the need to address the hunger. How do we cater for feeding the needy if these measures are to be effective?”
Wigwe explained that the third level was the thought leadership aspect of the plan, which is to tackle the post-pandemic aspect. He said: “a lot of businesses have been badly affected and economies have been disrupted. How do we get them back to life after we might have defeated the Coronavirus.”