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Why government hasn’t adopted PCR for coronavirus testing, by Ehanire

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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday, offered reason why the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 had not introduced the Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, which provide prompt results.

Addressing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, he stated: “It is not that nobody is thinking of rapid diagnostic test, it is being used all over the world. But the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts have said that this test is not very reliable in that it also delivers a significant number of false positive or false negative results.”

The minister went on: “So, if you go to a place where a percentage of test result can give you a wrong result, then you have to be careful.

“Science is never certain. There are many ways and avenues by which the quality of the rapid test is still being improved upon.”

Reacting to the alleged disregard for extant safety protocols at the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign flag-off in Benin City, Edo State, Ehanire noted: “There is something the law says. It says you must hold election at certain time and then watch the health needs.

“Nobody anticipated that COVID-19 would crop up. That is the dilemma INEC and the ministry face. It is not peculiar to Nigeria.”

He, therefore, urged physical distancing during the campaigns.

Corroborating, his Information and Culture counterpart, Lai Mohammed, canvassed social distancing in whatever gathering, adding: “It has been proven that wearing face mask saves lives and we will continue to harp on it that people should take personal responsibility.”

In a related development, high duty vehicles dealers, Mantrac Nigeria, has donated personal protective equipment (PPE) and medicals to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and some state governments to complement efforts in containing the spread of the virus nationwide.

Handing over the items, which included surgical masks, protective gears, nebulising machines, swab sticks, N95 respirators, patient monitor, sanitisers, viral testing media and face shields to the centre in Lagos, the firm’s Managing Director, Mr. Ragab Ahmed, acknowledged that the disease had disrupted the “way we live and do business.”

Also at the regional presentation in Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje commended the team and supplies from the Regional Manager North, Mr. Alex Nwoko.

The Special Assistant to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Dr. Chuwandu Mba, took delivery of Abuja’s consignment on behalf of his boss.

In Asaba and Port Harcourt, the Regional Manager East, Kenneth Obiefuna, made the presentations to the Delta and Rivers governments.

Responding in company of the Deputy Director/Head of Unit, NCDC Lagos, Mrs. Olajumoke Babatunde and other officials, the Head of Prevention Programmes and Knowledge Management Department, Dr. Chinwe Ochu, in a statement, lauded the donor for the gesture, stating: “The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) remains committed to working under the supervision of our parent Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Health, and in collaboration with other government institutions, the corporate community and partners through the PTF (Presidential Task Force) to scale up Nigeria’s response to COVID-19.”

She appealed: “We know that so far, the risk of spread of the virus is higher when people gather, especially if they do not take precautionary measures. Therefore, we urge businesses, religious gatherings and other public settings to adhere to the guidance provided. We have seen how gatherings at churches, mosques, restaurants and bars led to an increase in cases in other countries. This is something we can avoid, but it requires personal and collective responsibility.”

BESIDES, the council approved a national gender policy to ensure women are carried along in climate change issues in the country.

The Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood, said some of the priority areas in the gender action plan include agriculture, forestry, health, water and sanitation, energy and transportation.

He explained that Nigeria was committed to achieving 45 per cent reduction of emissions by the 2030.


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