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COVID-19: NCDC equips Federal Medical Centre, Yola as testing centre

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• PTF Warns Against Stigmatisation Of Patients

In response to the fast-rising in number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has expanded the number of laboratories with the capacity to conduct the test.

With the set up of a Virology laboratory at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State is now among the testing centres for the coronavirus infection in Nigeria.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known yesterday at the daily Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTFCOVID19) press briefing. He also revealed that plans have are underway to set up a centre each in Katsina, Kwara, Anambra and Gombe states.

In his address, the NCDC boss highlighted need for proper use of facemasks in limiting spread of COVID-19 in the country.He said, “Face masks are an additional layer of protection and should never be reused or shared with others. We are pleased to announce the inclusion of the 25th lab to the national #COVID19 Laboratory Network.”

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“It is important to emphasise that the NCDC does not provide results to individuals. Our role as the national public health institute is to coordinate the communication of results between testing laboratories and states, who then communicate with individuals,” he added.

Also speaking at the briefing, the Secretary to Federal Government (SGF), who also double as the PTF Coordinator, Boss Mustafa urged Nigerians to adhere to recommended measures to reduce #COVID19 spread.

Meanwhile, worried by the negative impacts on the society, the PTFCOVID-19 has warned the public to desist from stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients.The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu, while speaking during the press briefing in Abuja. He lamented the growing cases of stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients, saying that the state of affairs will not augur well for the fight against the pandemic in the country.

“Stigmatization of Covid-19 patients can only make many who have the disease to go underground and by that singular act the virus will continue to spread. When we stigmatize people who have contracted the virus it is obvious that many other people will be afraid to come clean. The carriers will be afraid to come forward for fear of being discriminated against”, Dr. Aliyu said.

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that some Nigerian journalists will today commence training in Kano on how best to report the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr. Ehanire, the programme is being organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the government of Kano state even as he thanked the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, whose government has undertaken to bankroll the media workshop.

The NCDC had in its frequently asked questions (FAQs) explained that Nigeria is using the Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) also known as nucleic acid ampli¬fication tests, stressing that the method is used to confi¬rm the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus.

It noted that though rigorous, the method is currently the most reliable for the laboratory con¬firmation of COVID-19, given its high sensitivity rate. It added that the PCR tests directly detect the presence of the virus in the body. This means that a PCR test can tell if a person has the virus very early on and is best for prompt detection and isolation of cases.

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On why Nigeria is not using rapid test kits, the Centre also explained that at the moment, there is no rapid test kit validated by the World Health Organization (WHO). While rapid test kits can give results in under an hour, they are not as accurate as PCR.

It stated that two types of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) are being developed globally; those that determine whether a person has been infected and those that determine active infection.

“NCDC will prioritise the use of RDTs that detect active infection once validated RDTs become available,” the centre stated. The centre further states that Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is effective when infection rate is low and only a few people are infected.

“By pooling, samples from several individuals are collected and tested together. If the results from the pooled samples come out negative, all samples are assumed to be negative. However, if the pool result is positive, all samples will be tested individually. Currently, Nigeria is recording a high rate of infection and would not benefi¬t from this method.”

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