PTF targets two million tests

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PTF targets two million tests

By Moses Emorinken, Abuja

An ambitious testing target of two million suspected COVID-19 patients  across the country in three months is being planned by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

It believes that the figure is attainable with the existing 21 molecular laboratories in the six-geopolitical zones and an additional one that was expected to be activated in Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday.

Oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) donated two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines (the equipment for testing) to the Rivers State Government for the new laboratory.

Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said during the PTF  daily briefing   in Abuja, on Thursday  that the centre had been given a mandate to embark on  aggressive contact tracing in order to achieve the two million target.

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As of the time of the briefing, the NCDC had tested 22,492 persons for the pandemic virus..

Ihekweazu said,  “We are managing a network of 22 laboratories nationwide now for COVID-19 testing, they are 21 but by the end of today(Thursday) it will be 22 when we add Port Harcourt.”

He attributed delay in tested people getting their results early to the fact that  the NCDC owns only one laboratory.

His words, “We don’t own these laboratories. We only own the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.. We have 36 states and the FCT.  Therefore, when results are generated from the laboratories,  they are first sent to the state epidemiologist.

“It is the responsibility of the state epidemiologist to then provide those results to every individual and then arrange for them to come in.”

The NCDC boss also clarified that people who test negative for COVID-19, get verbal notification while those positive, get physical result.

Ihekweazu added ”The data shared is on people tested not on the total tests done. From the data we share every day, I think we have about 22,000 people tested. We don’t include all the series of tests.”

The  Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, assured during that  the Federal Government was determined to ensure adequate capacity across the country.

He added that two ministerial teams had already been dispatched to Cross River and Kogi  states to achieve this and to collaborate with traditional and community leaders in surveillance efforts.

Ehanire said: “The Ministerial team of the Ministry of Health left enroute to Lokoja today to work with the Kogi State government. It includes officials of NCDC and Dept. of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health. They will ensure that the state has adequate testing capacity and shall also advocate for the engagement of traditional rulers and community leaders in surveillance efforts of the State. A similar team will also travel to Cross River State for the same purpose.”


PTF targets two million tests

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