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Federal government plans to increase Covid-19 testing to 1,500 daily

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• Govt now searching for 500 contacts with infected persons, cases reach 140

• People with COVID-19 symptoms not being tested – NMA president

The Federal Government on Tuesday said by next week, Nigeria would be testing 1,500 people for COVID-19 every day.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said the country,  as of last week,  was conducting 500 tests per day.

Ihekweazu said this as some states, including Oyo and Edo, on Tuesday complained that they were facing a shortage of testing kits for the virus.

On its part, the Bauchi State Government appealed to the Federal Government to set up a COVID-19 testing facility in the state.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Sunday,  as part of efforts to increase contact tracing and treat Nigerians, who might have contracted the virus, ordered lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.

Although Nigeria recorded the first coronavirus case on February 27, the figure shot up to 131 on Monday night amidst complaints that the country was not testing many people with suspected cases of the virus.

Prominent Nigerians, who have been diagnosed with the disease include the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed; his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai and Governor  Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

Ihekweazu, at the press conference, said the NCDC would only test specific persons whose case definition fitted into that of the centre.

He stated, “As of last week, we were testing about 500 per day, or we had the capacity to test 500 per day. By the end of this week, we will be at 1,000 per day, and next week we plan to take it to 1, 500 per day, just by increasing the number of labs.

“We are managing and improving the supply sides, but at the same time, we need to reduce the demand side to those that really need it. So, in Lagos, there is a big problem with a lot of anxiety and everybody wants to get tested. We need you to help us give this message to people. We have a case definition for COVID-19; either you have respiratory symptoms plus travel;  plus contact with a confirmed case or respiratory symptoms of unknown explanation.

“This is an important message because the more people force themselves into being tested the less we have the capacity to test those that really need it. These people that really need it will be transmitting it into the community and more people will get infected.

“So, there is a consequence, not just for you as an individual, but for the rest of society. So, we need to get to those we need to get to. And by testing those that don’t need it, we block the system from those that need it, and the outbreak continues. So, there is a price to pay for testing all these asymptomatic individuals.

FG searching for 500 people

He said “We are following up on 500 contacts across the country. This is one of the reasons the President gave us two weeks to free up the roads and to enable us to have the space to do this effectively. This comes at some pains to many Nigerians in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja but it is a necessary precaution and task.

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