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Testing kits can’t detect disease in Nigeria, NDDC boss declares

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• Umahi recalls retired health workers as C’River suspends verification of officers

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, has lamented that most of the testing kits being used in the country are not efficient and can’t detect COVID-19.

He said the commission will intervene in the oil producing states through provision of ventilators and drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment of COVID-19 to protect the people of the Niger Delta region from the disease.

Pondei, who stated this at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt, explained that the commission would collaborate with other stakeholders to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are also looking at the drugs that have been used in other climes for treatment, there are some anti-viral drugs we are trying to make available. The NDDC is going a step beyond what others are doing.

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“We are leaving testing with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which is coordinating it, but we will also let people know that most of the kits being used are not efficient and cannot detect COVID-19.

“Because everybody has been exposed to Coronavirus one way or another and those kits just test for antibodies that already exist in most of us,” he stated. In a related development, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi has ordered the recall of retired health officers at both state and local government levels to help medical workers fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statewide broadcast, he said the measure was taken to fight the scourge in Ebonyi, directing that all passengers to and from Lagos, Edo, Abuja and the South West must be recorded and submitted to the Ministry of Health daily.

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Umahi also banned burial ceremonies, wake-keeps, naming ceremonies, marriages outside religious premises, conferences, crusades and bars of over 50 customers.He explained that the State Government will not close down religious centres, markets, hotels and other essential service facilities for now, as no case has been recorded in the South East. Umahi noted that should it become necessary to shut down religious institutions, the state government would do so after meeting with religious leaders.

Meanwhile, the Cross River State government has postponed the verification exercise for public officers who were disengaged, as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The state government made the call in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Public Service, Office of the Head of Service, Emmanuel Eke.

“In line with Governor Ben Ayade’s directive restricting public gatherings and other activities as measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus pandemic, the personnel verification exercise for officers scheduled for Tuesday, March 24 and Thursday, March 26, 2020 has been postponed indefinitely.“A new date will be communicated as soon as the health situation gets better. Inconvenience arising from this is highly regretted,” it added.

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