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NCDC says racing against time in fight against COVID-19

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday said its is racing against time in the fight against Coronavirus(COVID-19) in the country.

The NCDC, on its verified twitter handle, however, said it was working hard to scale up its testing capacity to bring in more people for clinical management.

“We need all hands on deck to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

“We’re grateful for the support received so far from individual Nigerians and some corporate organisations,” the centre said.

According to it, there is no other way than for Nigerians to take responsibility as a country to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

It said that epidemiological information on cases collated at midnight each day would be shared in the NCDC daily situation report.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Lagos state still has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in country with 44 cases.

It is followed by Abuja, 11, Ogun three, Bauchi two, while Ekiti, Oyo, Edo, Osun and Rivers have one case each.

Most of the cases reported were from travellers who had just returned to the country, while others were from people who come in contact with infected persons.

Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

 

Abujah Racheal: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Health

NCDC confirms 313 new cases of COVID-19, total active cases now 5350

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Sunday recorded 313 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, taking the toll of active cases to 5350.

The NCDC, on its official twitter handle, however said that no new state had reported a case in the last 24 hours.

It said that a total of 7839 cases had been confirmed, 2263 cases discharged, while 226 deaths had been recorded across 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The NCDC stated that the 313 new cases were reported from 17 states as follows:

Lagos (148), FCT (36), Rivers (27), Edo (19), Kano (13), Ogun (12), Ebonyi (11), Nasarawa (8), Delta (8), Oyo (7), Plateau (6), Kaduna (5), Kwara (4), Akwa Ibom (3), Bayelsa (3), Niger (2), Anambra (1).  

 

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and Ephraims Sheyin (NAN)

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NCDC confirms 265 new cases of COVID-19, total infections now 7,526

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Saturday recorded 265 new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 7,526.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NCDC, through its official tweeter handle, announced that 133 of the new cases were found in Lagos, 34 in Oyo, 28 in Edo, 22 in the FCT, six in Plateau, five in Kaduna, three each in Borno and Niger, and two each in Kwara, Bauchi, Anambra, and Enugu states.

The health agency said that the number of deaths had risen to 221, just as the number of successfully treated patients also increased to 2,174.

According to the NCDC, no new state has reported a case in the past 24 hours.

The agency said that as of May 23, 7,526 cases had been confirmed with 5,131 of them being Active Cases .

According to the agency, 2,174 patients have been discharged while 221 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Since the confirmation of the first case of the virus in Nigeria on Feb. 27, the NCDC has released advisories and statements to help Nigerians and affected groups in particular respond to the pandemic.

On Feb. 28,  a multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated at Level Three the highest emergency level in Nigeria led by NCDC in close coordination with the State Public Health EOCs (PHEOC).

The health agency embarked on the development of sector-specific advisories on re-opening, conducted high level technical session on strategic outputs of Mid-Action Review and identified priority activities for the next phase of the response.

The NCDC reviewed Epi-data at the national and subnational levels for targeted interventions and engaged the National Council of Women Society on the use of their expansive network for community sensitisation.

It also developed strategic plan for grassroots mobilisation and had trained 101 healthcare workers on Infection Prevention and Control in Owerri, Imo state.

The health agency further trained 25 health care workers in the military on IPC in Enugu state.

It developed and circulated the National COVID-19 mortality review forms to isolation centres.

It also completed the first phase of engagement with traditional rulers and discussed their roles in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in their domains.

The NCDC trained surveillance and laboratory personnel from 39 Local Government Areas in Kano state on safe sample collection, packaging, handling, and transportation.

It completed the first phase of engagement with traditional rulers and discussed their roles in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in their domains.

It also completed commodities distribution to Oyo State Ministry of Health, Points of Entry and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

NCDC developed new Key Performance Indicators to track surveillance strategic directions and programmes.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Science & Technology

COVID-19: Nigeria records breakthrough as NCDC validates viral RNA extraction

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The country has blazed a trail in Africa with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) successfully validating the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.

The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.

The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, told the News Agency of Nigeria after the exercise that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.

“The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.

“The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,’’ Akpa said.

He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.

“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director-general said.

He disclosed that that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from African Development Bank.

Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, said he was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to “launch this wonderful project.’’

According to Nnaemeka, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.

He said there were serious concerns for the need to have more extraction kits in-country, and that there was growing demand worldwide for extraction kits.

“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,

The NCDC chief molecular bioengineer said the first phase of the evaluation results he carried out with the NABDA scientific team was “awesome and successful.’’

“The kits compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production,’’ Nnaemeka said.

He clarified that to be able to conduct test, the viral information which comes as the RNA has to first be extracted and without this extraction, no test can be conducted.

“What will tell you that the virus is there is contained in the RNA, so RNA is required for you to be able to detect COVID-19,’’ he said.

He added that as scientists, they would soon carry out the second phase of the evaluation which would involve real sample of COVID-19.

Similarly, Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said the exercise was historic.

She said the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, U.K.

She corroborated that the African Development Bank was taking over the manufacture of the test kits so as to expand Nigeria’s testing capacity with emphasis on farmers’ health.

Gidado also disclosed that the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day.

“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,’’ the scientist said.

She added that the project was a partnership involving NABDA, NCDC, Ethiopia, NVRI Vom, NIMR and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.

NAN reports that the evaluation and validation of the RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19  was carried out in the immunology laboratory of the NABDA.

It was done in the presence of a donor, Mr Bolaji Akinboro of Cellulant Nig. Ltd, and Mr Richard Mbaram, the Technical Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, among others.

Edited By: Peter Ejiofor/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC confirms 339 new cases, total infections now 7,016

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday confirmed 339 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infections to 7,016.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that nine new patients have been confirmed dead to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 211.

The health agency explained that most of the fatalities recorded from COVID-19 were cases with other underlying illnesses known as co-morbidities.

NCDC said that the 339 new cases were confirmed in 18 states, while nine deaths were recorded in Nigeria as at May 21.

The 339 new cases were reported from Lagos(139), Kano(28), Oyo(28), Edo(25), Katsina(22), Kaduna(18), Jigawa (14), Yobe(13), Plateau (13), FCT(11), Gombe(8), Ogun(5), Bauchi(4), Nasarawa(4), Delta(3), Ondo(2), Rivers(1), Adamawa(1).

The NCDC however noted that no new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

The health agency said that till date 7,016 cases have been confirmed, with 4,898 Active Cases, while 1,907 cases have been discharged and 211 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

NAN also reports that NCDC said it would continue to work with different stakeholders to provide communities across the country with the right information to stay safe.

“We are grateful to the Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering for supporting national COVID19 response with face masks and hand sanitisers.

“We continue to work with professional bodies in the whole-of-society response to COVID19,” it said.

The health agency emphasised that regular handwashing was very important to reduce the risk of spread of COVID19.

“An important moment to wash your hands is after handling money, especially if you are handling or eating food,” it advised.

 

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC urges state governments to test more for virus

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has called on state governments to intensify efforts to ramp up sample collection and testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja, against the backdrop of the country’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Ihekweazu said that no matter how intensive the states’ preventive measures were, success in controlling the outbreak could not be assessed without estimating the actual burden of the disease, through testing.

“No matter how intensive preventive measures are, there’s no way to assess states’ success or failure in managing COVID-19 without conducting more tests to estimate the burden of the disease,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that testing is critical to the national response,  adding “we will continue to scale up capacity.

“Our goal is to limit transmission”.

The director-general also stressed the need for Nigerians to support the public health response to COVID-19 by taking responsibility to limit transmission.

He noted that the health agency would continue to build up its testing capacity across the country.

Speaking on the pooling strategy for testing adopted by some countries, including Ghana, Ihekweazu said that Nigeria is implementing a testing strategy best suited for the country’s realities and needs.

He added that the frontline laboratory scientists were doing their best under the critical circumstances.

“We will continue to scale up our testing capacity. We are testing every sample we get daily.

“In terms of laboratory capacity, we are ready to do more,” Ihekweazu said.

The Pooling Testing is a method of testing samples from multiple patients with a single Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, and it was used previously in the early stages of the HIV epidemic when PCR costs were high.

Meanwhile, Ihekweazu explained that COVID-19 patients caught dancing in a video, which has gone viral, were kept at the isolation centres so as not to spread the virus.

Ihekweazu said that it was wrong for Nigerians to make false assumptions about the COVID-19 situation in Nigeria based on the videos on social media.

The director-general assured that NCDC would continue to adapt its strategy as knowledge about the virus evolves.

He stated that the discharge criteria for any COVID-19 patient at the moment was a single negative COVID-19 test.

Ihekweazu also explained that the average duration of hospitalisation for COVID-19 patients is 11 days.

He said that government decided to do this due to limitations in bed spaces.

“Some people recover faster than others based on certain factors such as the strengths of their immune system.

“Full reopening of the economy will require the sacrifice of all Nigerians in taking responsibility and adhering to recommended measures,” he said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC lauds Kwara Govt over testing centre

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The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has commended efforts of the Kwara Government in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.

The NCDC Team Leader, Dr Okoli Innocent, made the commendation when he led other members of the agency to inspect laboratories in preparation for establishing of Molecular Testing Centre in the state to test for the virus.

Okoli explained that the Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, was appreciative of the present administration’s strides in the health sector.

The team leader pledged NCDC’s support to the state in the fight against COVID-19.

He added that NCDC was not surprised that the state was ranked fourth in preparation for health emergency in the country, given the availability of modern medical equipment.

Kwara has provided 10 ventilators, six gene Xperts and ICU beds  among other equipment, in the state’s health facilities visited by the team.

Okoli, who is a Molecular Biology expert, assured that as soon as the team’s final report on staff training and re-training, provision of more molecular diagnostic equipment, as well as reorganisation of laboratories was concluded, the NCDC would swing into action to optimise and increase the state’s testing capacity.

Responding, the Chairman of Technical Committee on COVID-19 and DeputyGovernor of the state, Mr Kayode Alabi, appreciated the NCDC for the move to establish a Molecular Testing Centre in the state.

Alabi  who was represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Razaq, added that the priority of the state governor was to reduce medical tourism  both for diagnosis and treatment in the state.

Alabi expressed optimism that Kwara would soon own a Molecular laboratory for COVID-19 testing, stressing that the state will no longer have to take samples to Ede in Osun Dtate or Ibadan in Oyo State for testing.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other members of the technical committee who received the NCDC team included the Chairman, Kwara House of Assembly Committee on Health, Mr Razaq Owolabi; Chairman of Subcommittee on Medical Advisory, Dr Femi Oladiji, and Dr Oluwatosin Fakayode.

The NCDC team had earlier donated 1,000 pieces each of Viral Transport Medium, Swab sticks and Tongue depressors as well as 320 pieces of Falcon Tubes.

The team also inspected the Public Health Laboratory, Harmony Diagnostic Centre and the former Sobi Specialist Hospital which had been turned to COVID-19 Infectious Disease Centre.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC records 226 new cases, total infections now 6401

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday recorded 226 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infections in Nigeria to 6401.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that one new patients have been confirmed dead to the virus in the country, bringing the total number of deaths to 192.

The health agency explained that most of the fatalities recorded from COVID-19 were cases with other underlying illnesses known as co-morbidities.

It advised Nigerians to trust the health authorities and take responsibility to control the spread of the outbreak.

According to it, call your state hotline if you notice known COVID-19 symptoms.

The health agency said that the 226 new cases were confirmed in 16 states, one death was recorded in Nigeria by May 19.

The 226 new cases were reported from 16 states- Lagos (131), Ogun (25), Plateau (15), Edo (11), Kaduna (7), Oyo (6), FCT (5), Adamawa (5), Jigawa (4), Ebonyi (4), Borno (4), Nasarawa (3), Bauchi (2), Gombe (2), Enugu (1), Bayelsa (1)

The NCDC noted that no new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

The health agency said that till date, 6401 cases have been confirmed, 4475  Active Cases, 1734 cases have been discharged and 192 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

NAN reports that the health agency advocates for sustainability in use of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) across health care settings in the country post COVID-19.

The NCDC gave summary of the key infection prevention and control (IPC) strategies to limit or prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in healthcare settings as follows:

“Health works should ensure early triage, recognition and source control at the entry point of the facility: Ensure the availability of a triage station at the entrance of the facility with trained personnel.

“Request information on recent travel history and pre-existing disease profile of the patient to determine the patient’s risk level: Evaluate clinical symptoms of COVID-19 to ensure early recognition and

Ensure source control (isolation) of patients with suspected SARS COV-2 (COVID-19) infections in a designated area with a defined approach for further assessments,” it stated.

The health agency said that at the application of standard precautions for all patients at the entry point of the facility, none of the IPC protocols should be bypassed under any circumstances to reduce the likelihood of viral transmission to healthcare workers and other patients within the healthcare setting.

The NCDC noted that these protocols include the following, hand and respiratory hygiene for healthcare workers and patients, visibility of IEC materials that communicate the symptoms of COVID-19 and prevention measures, clearly stating that some cases may be asymptomatic.

It also advised the appropriate use of PPE, safe waste disposal practices, sterilisation of medical equipment and surfaces.

“Confirmed cases of COVID-19 should be housed together with enough ventilation. The physical distancing between all patients should be adhered to in all facilities with at least 1-meter distance.

“Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be utilised based on a risk assessment. Proper disposal and waste management of all PPE, equipment, and consumables used on patients.

  “Where equipment must be re-used, such equipment should be properly disinfected. Otherwise, single-use/disposable equipment should be utilised.

“Maintain visitors log to record details of all visitors into COVID-19 wards (including health care workers) to support with contact-tracing when necessary.

“Disinfect all surfaces that patients come in contact with airborne precautions (in a certain situation when aerosol-generating procedures are carried out on COVID-19 patients.

“Appropriate PPE such as eye protection such as a facemask, long sleeve/water-proof gowns should be utilised,” it explained.

The agency said that all procedures should be performed in rooms with sufficient ventilation for aerosol-generating procedures, by limiting the number of people present.

The NCDC said that in implementing administrative controls, healthcare settings require infrastructure to address COVID-19 cases such as adequate PPE, sensitisation materials for patients and health care workers, adequate health care worker training, designated waiting for areas for asymptomatic patients, isolation facilities for confirmed cases amongst others.

The health agency said that the use of environmental and engineering controls such as adequate spatial separation of patients, appropriate ventilation and appropriate cleaning of the environment.

It said that for ventilation, a natural ventilation may be utilised. For artificial ventilation, it was appropriate to use a filters for air conditioning and in a spatial separation, at least one meter of physical distancing should be observed between patients.

“Cleaning: Thorough cleaning and disinfection of surfaces as well as laundry protocols and frequent monitoring of the adherence to necessary standards for the above.

“The choice and combination of PPE ensemble to be worn in dealing with COVID-19 patients should be based on a careful risk assessment that considers the risk of exposure and extent of contact anticipated with respiratory droplets, blood, body fluids, and/ or open skin.

“Where possible, it may also be advisable to bundle similar services to reduce inefficient use of PPE however the quest to minimise inefficient use of PPE should not come at the expense of standard protocols and precaution,” it stated.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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COVID-19: Patients can demand doctors wear gloves – NCDC

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says  COVID-19  patients have the right to demand that health workers   including  doctors, wear gloves before examining them.

The agency also said that the patients had the right to demand that doctors should  wash their hands before attending to them.

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known at the  daily media briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, on Tuesday in Abuja.

“A patient  has a right to demand that a doctor should  wear gloves when attending to him or her.

“If you see your nurse or doctor going from one patient to the other without washing hands in between, you should ask, as a patient: ‘Aren’t  you supposed to wash your hands before attending to me, you just touched a patient?’ Ihekweazu said.

According to him, this is part of new changes that must be embraced in the health sector because of the threat of COVID-19.

Ihekweazu said that Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) should be everyone’s responsibility, especially in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

He said that the NCDC  had trained more than 20,000  health workers in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, in an effort to respond to the pandemic.

Ihekweazu said that the NCDC was rapidly increasing the number of frontline workers trained to respond to COVID-19, adding that the training was  focused on IPC.

The National Coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said that restriction on interstate travel did not apply to essential services.

Aliyu said that agriculture services were essential.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic would not end in the next few days or few weeks.

He added that government was conscious of the impact of lockdown on the informal sector.

Aliyu said that the PTF strongly discouraged gathering of more than 20 people, except in a workplace.

He said that security operatives were being encouraged to use mobile courts in dealing with violators of safety guidelines.

 

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC collaborates with global partners on testing challenges- Ihekweazu

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it will collaborate with global partners to tackle bottlenecks to its target on testing for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

The Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ihekwazu said that the centre was working very hard to equip its network of laboratories to be able to achieve the target in the country.

The DG said that the centre so far had 26 testing laboratories in its network for COVID-19.

NAN reports that the NCDC Laboratory Strategic Group has set itself a target of testing two million people across the country in the next three months.

The two million Nigerians will come to about 50,000 per state which the health agency noted was a very ambitious target.

The NCDC said that this would cost a lot of money and also required a lot of collaboration.

“We did put an ambitious target of hitting two million tests in three months, this is the  beginning of week three if I’m not mistaken. So, we are not in the second month yet.

“Sometimes, to drive improvement, you have to set out that target for yourself, and that is really what we’ve done.

“There are many bottlenecks to this and that’s something throughout this week we are working with our global partners in terms of how to unbottle some of those supply chain challenges.

“And some of those things are now going to yield fruit this week. I actually don’t want to name a date untill I have those reagents in the country.

”So, I’m hesitant to say this is when it will happen or that is when it will happen.

“There is now a lot of momentum around the supply, we hope those reagents will really lead us to that,” Ihekweazu explained.

The DG said that the other thing was how the NCDC would stimulate collection of samples from Nigerians.

“Like I said, we will publish the number of tests per state. That we promise to do today, but we might end up doing it tomorrow.

“But, this will be published so that you can see actually from those numbers that there are many states that don’t have a laboratory, that have tested an incredible number of people compared to the total figure.

“So, we will discuss those numbers once we make them available either later today or tomorrow,” he stated.

Speaking on activation of laboratories in the country, he said that when building an institution, there were many things that were never visible to people.

“So, when we come to NCDC  four years ago, we realised that there were several pieces of laboratory equipment lying across the country that were not functioning.

“Why were they not functioning, maybe for one small component or problem. And you’ll be wasting equipment worth millions of naira or millions of dollars.

“So, we started looking for how to train our biomedical engineers. We found partner in Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA), and they started supporting us specifically in this regard.

“We now retained two bio medical engineers over six months in Japan. Japan is well known world-wide for their capacity around things like this.

“These two colleagues are leading a lot of the efforts on the equipment side of activating labs. Then we have our biomedical Laboratory scientists that are leading the training on Laboratory diagnostic science,” he explained.

Ihekweazu said that the agency would send a three-man team comprising a biomedical engineer, a molecular Laboratory scientist and one new colleague “expert” to be trained in the process .

“Two teams left today, one in Katsina and the other to Ilorin to do this. And as we continue to do this, we build the capacity of more Nigerians to do this,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that the maintenance of medical equipment was one of the biggest challenges the health agency had.

“We have persons on the Laboratory side, but anybody working in the health space will tell you the challenges that we have with very expensive pieces of medical equipment that often breaks down for one small problem and that’s the challenge we are trying to solve.

“There is no magic bullet, you keep pushing, you strain,” he added.

He disclosed that they had a workshop at NCDC where they trained local staff to do a lot of the maintenance.

“What we call biosafety cabinet that are necessary, they have to be accredited every single year, they have to be checked whether they provide the safe environment to enable people work safely.

“So, to do that, the pipe certifying them has to themselves be certified that they can certify the cabinet,” he noted.

According to him, it’s a very diligent process in keeping our equipment working, because we know that the equipment is what ultimately leads us to have confidence in the result that we produce.

“Yes, we have people doing this and we try to keep them within the public sector which is not always easy. But I think people are beginning to realise that there is benefit in working in the public sector and they can grow their career that way,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the DG who spoke on self isolation, noted that very early in the outbreak, the agency had a policy on self isolation for people that traveled back to the country from one of the most affected countries.

He said that but, since then, the policy had been institutional isolation, both for people being brought back through the evacuation processes at the moment.

“We are constantly reviewing this policy but that’s the policy at the moment. Yes, other countries are doing different things , but this is what we have agreed to do between the PTF for now and that’s the policy of the federal government of Nigeria through the PTF.

Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC provides guidance for businesses to take responsibility, re-open safely

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it will provide guidance for businesses to take responsibility and re-open safely, as it continues to work to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Director-General (DG), of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this at the Presidential Task Force (PTF), media briefing on Monday, in Abuja.

Iheakweazu said President Muhammadu Buhari, had expressed concerns over re-opening of the economy, when the PTF briefed him on the public health response to COVID-19 in the country.

He said that a consensus was reached that Nigerians might have to live with the pandemic up to months in the forseeable future.

“But how do we move from the narrative of a lockdown to a narrative of a safe re-opening so that people can go back to their livelihoods, why still staying safe from this virus?

“How do we do that in the farms, markets, schools, in transports, our offices and in aviation? Really this has to be our focus in the coming weeks, to provide guidance for businesses to take responsibility and re-open safely,” he said.

Ihekweazu said that there were no easy answers, neither could all the answers come from NCDC alone, but from all Nigerians to also help in giving directions to the country.

“But I was happy to hear the efforts being made by the aviation industry, the detail thinking that has started to happen in order to eventually re-start.

“Similar conversations are going on in the education sector, and I have the privilege to some of those.

“It will be much easier for Mr President, that when we visit him in the next two weeks with a narrative that we are ready to re-open safely, it will make his decisions easier,” he said.

Ihekweazu, however, said that the biggest challenge was how Nigerians could ensure that small businesses opened safely.

“We must take every step in a deliberate and calculative manner, due to what we have on ground with our healthcare, in order to give our people succour.

“Industries and enterprises will be given guidelines of what they need to put in place when issuing out phase two strategy of the lockdown ease,” he stated.

In her remarks, Dr Fiona Braka, the Officer in Charge, World Health Organisation (WHO), Country Office, explained Multi-system inflammatory disorder in Children.

Braka said that recent information from Europe had described the ailment as acute illness found in children and adolescents that often sent them into shock.

She, however, said that experts were still looking into the cause and the risk factors.

The country Rep also disclosed that new guidelines, intended for healthcare professionals, were now available on the WHO website.

“Most cases will recover after a period of two weeks,” she explained.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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COVID-19: NCDC records 338 new cases, total infections now 5959

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Sunday, recorded 338 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infections in Nigeria to 5959.

The NCDC also said that six new patients have been confirmed dead to the virus in the country, bringing the total number of deaths to 182.

According to the health agency, the 338 new cases were confirmed in 18 states.

The 338 new cases were reported from: Lagos(177), Kano(64), FCT(21), Rivers(16), Plateau(14), Oyo(11), Katsina(9), Jigawa(4), Kaduna(4), Abia(3), Bauchi(3), Borno(3),Gombe(2), Akwa Ibom(2), Delta(2), Ondo(1), Kebbi(1), Sokoto(1).

The NCDC stated that no new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

The health agency said that till date, 5959 cases have been confirmed, 4183 Active Cases, 1594 cases have been discharged and 182 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the health agency announced the inclusion of the 26th laboratories to the national COVID-19 Laboratory Network.

It said that the 26th Laboratory is the Accunalysis Diagnostic Centre, Anambra State.

The health agency said that in progress were Katsina, Kwara and Gombe states into its National COVID19 Laboratory Network.

According to it, for states that do not have a laboratory, samples are transported to the nearest state with a laboratory for testing of COVID-19.

However, the NCDC is working hard to ensure that there is a laboratory for the testing of COVID-19 in each state.

NCDC said that this will enhance access to testing and shorten the time for confirmation of result. Currently, the turnaround time is between 48-96 hours.

Testing conducted through a laboratory within the NCDC network is offered free of charge.

“Where do people go to get tested? If you are showing known symptoms of COVID-19 or believe you are a close contact of a confirmed case, call your state helpline.

“The state officials will advise on the nearest testing centre or advise if a trained health worker will come to you to collect your sample,” it stated.

NCDC said that it also has created a directory of all state helplines which can be accessed via https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/contact

The health agency said that one of the most important things Nigerians needed to remember while awaiting their test result is that the need to protect their loved ones.

“While awaiting your results, it is important to self-isolate from friends and family. Practice frequent hand washing; wear a face mask to limit the spread of infection to your loved ones and others; and ensure the home environment is properly and frequently cleaned with disinfectant.

“If you test positive or negative for COVID-19, you must continue to adhere to preventive measures as recommended by the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC,” it advised.

Edited By: Nkiru Ifeajuna/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

CACOVID donates COVID-19 test kits to NCDC

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A private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), has donated more extraction kits and silicon swabs to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) toward enhancing COVID-19 tests in the country.

Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director, Access Bank, in a statement on Sunday in Lagos, said CACOVID released 140 extraction kits, which translates to 14,000 tests to strengthen government’s response to tackle and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wigwe said that the coalition was concerned that the availability of test kits had become a challenge in fighting the virus.

According to him, before the end of May, CACOVID will bring in more test kits to increase testing capacity by 32,500.

“The reality of the situation at hand is such that efforts must be put together, with no stone left unturned, in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Wigwe pledged CACOVID’s support to fight the spread of Coronavirus in Kano and other northern parts of the country.

“We will continue to pull together resources across industries to provide technical and operational support, while providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives to tackle the menace of COVID-19 in the country,” he added.

Responding, Mrs Olajumoke Babatunde, Deputy Director, Central Public Health Laboratory, NCDC, commended CACOVID for the provision of the test kits to increase Nigeria’s testing capacity.

According to her, the donation is coming at a very critical period when the country needs more test kits to determine the number of cases in Nigeria.

“We will not be able to know the status of a COVID-19 patient without testing.

“When we have kits available and we are able to test on time, we will be able to meet our turnaround time and this will translate to prompt diagnosis and treatment,” Babatunde said.

She said early diagnosis and treatment would assist to reduce the spread of the virus in the country, adding that CACOVID’s donation would help make NCDC’s task easier.

—————

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: NCDC records 288 new cases, total infections now 5445

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday recorded 288 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infections in Nigeria to 5445.

The NCDC also said that three new patients have been confirmed dead to the virus in the country, bringing the total number of deaths to 171.

According to the agency, the 288 new cases are confirmed in 15 states.

The 15 states and their breakdowns are: Lagos (179), Kaduna (20), Katsina (15), Jigawa (15), Borno (13), Ogun (11), Kano (8), FCT (7), Niger (4), Ekiti (4), Oyo (3), Delta (3), Bauchi (3), Kwara (2) and Edo (1).

The NCDC noted that no new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

The agency said that till date, 5445 cases have been confirmed, 3954 Active Cases, 1320 cases have been discharged and 171 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

NCDC said that on the May 14, four cases reported from Plateau states and one case from Akwa Ibom, were repeated cases.

“Therefore Plateau has a total of 21 cases and Akwa Ibom has a total of 16 cases.

“We apologise to these state governments for this error and remain committed to ensuring accurate reporting,” it said.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the agency said it was important to emphasise that the NCDC does not provide results to individuals on COVID-19.

“Our role as a national public health institute is to coordinate the communication of results between testing laboratories and states, who then communicate with individuals,” it said.

NCDC also noted that across the world, several places of worship have suspended physical gatherings to reduce risk of COVID-19 spread.

“At the National Mosque in Nigeria, religious leaders are taking an alternative approach to the call for prayer while worshippers pray at home,” it said.

Meanwhile, the agency announced  the inclusion of its 25th laboratory to the national COVID-19 Laboratories Network.

NCDC said that the 25th Laboratory was allocated at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State.

It disclosed that in progress were Katsina, Kwara, Anambra and Gombe states to also have a molecular laboratory to test for COVID-19.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: NMA decries obstruction of NCDC by Kogi, Cross River govt

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The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has decried the continued obstruction of the National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) by the Kogi and Cross River State Governments.

Dr Francis Faduyile, the President of the association said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday in Abuja.

He said the obstruction was contrary to the NCDC Act (2018) that empowered it to “prevent, detect, monitor and control” activities and programmes for national response against infectious diseases.

Faduyile added that the act also empowered the agency and other public health emergencies to lead, develop and coordinate such activities.

The NMA president described the development as unfortunate and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the situation.

According to him, Nigeria’s acceptance of the herbal remedy from Madagascar ‘COVID Organics’ is an act of pulling all stops in search of remedial interventions in protecting the lives of citizens.

“We appreciate the concerns of our colleagues in the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and bemoan the situation where Nigeria appears to be lagging and not leading the black race’s response against the pandemic.

NMA insists that the herbal mixture undergoes due diligence based on scientific methods before authourising its use in the polity while urging the government to leapfrog the revitalization of research and production activities of our pharmaceutical industries.”

He said that the association was carefully studying the overall impact of the newly approved WHO’s home treatment policy for COVID-19 patients, while accepting the noticeable acute shortage of bed spaces available at designated centres.

Faduyile stated that the peculiarities in Nigeria should be taken into consideration, while urging the Federal Government to adapt the new regulation, stressing that Nigeria had an average of six persons per household.

The NMA president said that the country risk an explosive regime of community transmission if it adopted the guidelines completely without modifications.

Faduyile said that NMA was of the conviction that revamping abandoned General Hospitals and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) would mitigate the challenges with home treatment and acute shortage of bed spaces.

“We still maintain that isolation and treatment centres should stand alone to avoid the non-social spread of this infection especially in settings of poor hygiene practices,” he said.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: NCDC records 193 new cases, total infections now 5,162

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday recorded 193 new cases of the coronavirus, thus bringing the total number of infections in the country to 5,162.

The NCDC also confirmed three new deaths, bringing the total death toll in the country to 167.

The agency added that 193 new cases were confirmed in 15 states with six deaths recorded in the country as of May 14.

According to NCDC, no new state has reported a case in the last 24 hours.

The agency said that till date, 5,162 cases have been confirmed, with 3,815 of them being Active Cases,

1,180 patients have been discharged and 167 deaths have been recorded in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The 193 new cases are reported from 15 states, namely: Lagos (58), Kano (46), Jigawa (35), Yobe (12), FCT (9), Ogun (7), Plateau (5), Gombe (5), Imo (4), Edo (3), Kwara (3), Borno (3), Bauchi (1), Nasarawa (1), and Ondo (1).

The agency said that two cases reported on Wednesday from Kaduna state, were repeat tests and therefore, Kaduna had a total of 114 confirmed cases.

“We apologise to the Kaduna state government and we remain committed to ensuring the release of accurate and reliable data.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that NCDC received additional medical supplies including personal protective equipment, provided by the United Nation Development Programme and from the Congressional Executives Commission on China to support Nigeria’s response to the pandemic.

One of the key strategies of Nigeria’s response is to ensure that frontline health workers are protected.

The agency said it was re-thinking its response to the coronavirus from mitigating its impact to an increasingly science-led process with a view to understanding its drivers in the country.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: NCDC says ages 31-40 more susceptible to virus

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)  says  people within the 31 to 40 years age bracket are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

According to the centre, however, more deaths have been recorded among older people of 60 years and above.

In a report made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja, the NCDC said that data also showed that men were two times more likely to get the virus as shown in its latest demographic data on COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths by gender and age in the country.

“(People) between 31 and 40 years (of age) have the highest rate of confirmed cases.

“More males in that age category are confirmed cases but with lower mortality rate.

“Age 31-40: Male – 797 infected with seven deaths, female – 324 with four deaths but lower mortality compared to older persons,” it said.

According to the report, in spite of this, older people die more due to several factors from co-morbidities.

The data showed more deaths among 61-70 years, though the lowest rate in confirmed cases.

“Ages 61-70: Male-188 infected with three deaths, Female-  52 infected with four deaths.

“Age 70 plus: Male – 74 infected with 12 deaths, Female -33 infected with five deaths. Highest rate of mortality- comparable to global data,” it showed.

The report also showed a very high rate of mortality among ages 41- 50 and 51-60.

“Ages 41-50: Male – 570 infected  with 15 deaths, Female-  206 infected with four deaths.

Ages 51-60: Male-  364 infected with 27 deaths, Female-   I48 infected with three deaths ,”  it said.

Meanwhile, 11- 20 years were infected with three deaths and under 10 also were infected at lower rates, with one death which was also a male.

“Same rates by age group,  it seems for suspected cases with a total of 27, 365.

*It assumes these are the ones who have been identified during contact tracing and have been isolated,  awaiting testing and confirmation.

“Here we also see the demographics,” it added. 

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Economy

Shippers’ Council, NCDC partner on COVID-19 sensitisation

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The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has collaborated with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to contain the spread of COVID-19, particularly in the maritime community.

Mrs Rakiya Zubairu, Head, Public Relations, NSC, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday.

According to her, starting from Wednesday, the council will hand over hundreds of face masks and hand sanitisers to the leaders of seven trucking associations.

“This is particularly significant because truckers, being essential workers, are some of the few people who are allowed to move across state lines as they deliver essential cargoes all around the country.

“It may be recalled that NSC, through the Federal Ministry of Transportation, had made an intervention for this category of persons (truckers).

“To be allowed free movement as they convey goods from the ports to the length and breadth of Nigeria and indeed beyond the borders of the country.

“Also, starting today, NSC will be making the rounds of terminals and shipping companies on a COVID-19 sensitisation campaign,” she said.

Zubairu said that NCDC had assigned one if its doctors to deliver a talk on COVID-19 at the various locations where freight forwarders and staff of these organisations would be present.

She noted that the Port Health Services Department of the Federal Ministry of Health would also be present at the sensitisation events.

“Shippers’ Council, as the promoter of this sensitisation campaign, will give out face masks and sanitisers to all present at all the terminals and shipping companies,” she said.

Edited By: Buhari Bolaji/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

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Health

NCDC contesting this figure – MST- COVID-19: Oyo State discharges 3 patients, confirms 2 positive new cases

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The Oyo State Government says three confirmed COVID-19 patients had been disharged from isolation centre after receiving their second negative test results.

Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who disclosed this on his twitter handle on Tuesday night, said the discharged patients brought the number of discharged cases in the state to 17.

“Also, the COVID-19 confirmation tests for two suspected cases came back positive. One case in Ibadan North and one case in Ibadan North West,” he tweeted.

The governor explained that the two new cases had brought the total number of confirmed cases in the state as at May 12 night to 67.

He therefore urged residents of the state to call the emergency operations centre, if they found travellers from other states arriving in their neighbourhood.

He gave the numbers as 08095394000, 08095863000, 08078288999 and 08078288800.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Politics

House of Representatives urges NCDC to intervene in Benue lady’s case

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The House of Representatives, has urged the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to critically evaluate Mrs. Susan Idoko-Okpe, a lady held in an isolation centre in Benue, with a view to discharging her home.

This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of motion of Matters of Public Importance by Rep. Blessing Onuh (APGA-Benue), at plenary on Tuesday, in Abuja.

Moving the motion earlier, Onuh said that 56 year-old Idoko-Okpe, an indigene of Benue, flew into the country on March 22, from the U.K.

The lawmaker said that the lady, who is also a UK citizen, flew into Nigeria to attend her mother’s burial in Benue.

According to her, Idoko-Okpe, unfortunately got quarantined by the government over COVID-19 suspicion, and results of tests carried out on her were full of discrepancies.

Onuh said that the lady had a long flight from UK and must have suffered a jet lag which gave rise to some symptoms she exhibited on arrival.

She said that jet lag was a common occurrence which necessitated her presentation to the cottage hospital where she was first managed.

“The details of this Mrs. Susan ldoko-Okpe Nee Lawani, is not consistent with that of the lady who was referred from Benue State Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja.

“The personal information on the laboratory result from the NCDC did not also tally with her personal details.

COVID -19 is real, but not a death sentence or a yardstick for discrimination and human rights infringement or violation, so her case should not be different,’’ Onuh said.

She said that Idoko-Okpe, who was bereaved, was beginning to deteriorate psychologically and already having suicidal thoughts.

According to Onuh, this was worsened by the fact that she had been in isolation for about 50 days without any form of treatment.

The legislator said that the test result given to her was questionable, as it did not carry her correct information, and was given verbally.

Onuh alleged that the lady had been forced to take treatment for COVID ~19 even in her asymptomatic state.

The house urged the NCDC to carry out quality contact tracing and encourage persons who were asymptomatic to go for proper clinical evaluation and management.

The lawmakers called for prompt release of patients or those in isolation centres, when they returned to their pre-morbid state; while stigmatisation, inhumane treatment and violation of human rights, should be discouraged.

Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: NCDC outlines principles of engagement with private laboratories

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday outlined the principles of engagement with private sector laboratories as an important resource to accelerate availability of COVID-19 testing in Nigeria.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, told News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, that all private sector laboratories should have valid registration with relevant national and state authorities to perform diagnostic testing.

Ihekweazu said that all staff working within the facilities should be appropriately trained and registered with appropriate national bodies.

He stressed that private laboratories should abide by the roles of public health laboratories listed above:

“Where feasible, testing should be conducted at no cost to the patient. If private patients are charged for diagnostic tests, it should be at a fixed cost with no additional charges.

“Private laboratories should agree to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state health authorities, while the NCDC will provide overall coordination and technical support,” the NCDC boss said.

He said that the NCDC would be committed to supplying reagents and extraction kits for continued operations, adding that where possible, private sector laboratories should work with states to procure reagents.

“Other principles of engagement are that the laboratories must maintain continuity of operations; establish and maintain the ability to sustain operations over mid to long-term periods.

“Ensure effective information exchange, ensure timely exchange of laboratory information and data with laboratory network coordinator, the state level EOC and national EOC and other stakeholders.

“The private laboratories must also maintain chain of custody procedures, ensure chain of custody requirements are maintained throughout the sample management process.

“They must facilitate access to training, provide resources for training, for testing, collection of specimens, handling, packaging, and shipping samples.

“Ensure technical standards, participate in national and international quality assurance panels to demonstrate technical competencies,” Ihekweazu explained.

Ihekweazu said that the mechanisms of engagement of the private sector as part of national COVID-19 testing laboratory network would be between the state and private sector laboratories, with technical guidance and support from the NCDC.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) may be signed between the state and the private sector that provides details of cost implications and operational support.

“As part of its national mandate, the NCDC is responsible for providing technical support to the private laboratory,” he said.

The NCDC boss said that private laboratories should abide by the roles of public health laboratories listed above.

He listed other criteria for private laboratories to be accepted into the NCDC COVID-19 laboratory network, as assessment of facilities to be conducted by NCDC staff and other relevant stakeholders.

“Completion of the COVID-19 Laboratory Assessment Checklist and participation in a COVID-19 quality assurance panel.

“The private laboratories must provide all required staff with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and laboratory consumables required for testing.

“They must also provide all infrastructure needed to ensure 24-hour operations, seven days a week.

“And they must counsel patients about signs and symptoms of complicated COVID-19 disease and advise them to seek care through national referral systems if these symptoms develop,” Ihekweazu said.

According to the NCDC boss, its operations and activities are guided by five key goals to accurately measure the burden of infectious diseases in Nigeria, and ensure Nigeria is able to meet its international obligations as a member of the World Health Assembly.

Ihekweazu said further that the NCDC was to develop a public health laboratory service network to support the detection, prevention of and response to critical infectious diseases, and to reduce the adverse impact of predictable and unpredicted public health emergencies.

“Create an efficiently managed and evidence-based organisation with a clear focus of health promotion and disease prevention.

NCDC currently operates through five directorates: Surveillance and Epidemiology, Public Health Laboratory Services, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Prevention and Programmes Coordination.

“Other directorates are Finance and Accounts, and Administration and Human Resources,” he explained.

Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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