The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has disclosed that 7,153 persons have been tested for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country as at Friday.
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The NCDC disclosed this just as it published its new national testing strategy for COVID-19 on its website on Friday.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC Director-General, while speaking at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Friday stated that the number of persons tested for the disease in the country will henceforth be published every Friday.
On the national testing strategy, Ihekweazu said the centre is making good use of validated technology at its disposal to ramp up testing measures regarding the virus.
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According to the document published on its website, the NCDC said is based on five phases as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) namely Containment Phase, Transition Phase, Localised Community Transmission, Widespread Community Transmission and Waning Transmission.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) implementing this directive and following best practice, recommends and implements COVID-19 diagnosis by molecular RT-PCR testing. Currently (as at 13 April 2020), nine laboratories provide national testing capacity with an approximate combined testing output of about 2,500 samples daily,” the document stated.
Noting that the country has moved to the community transmission phase, the frontline health agency said the testing strategy will be implemented in a tailored approach suited to the context required for individual states.
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It added that the NCDC has accredited 12 functional testing facilities in eight states, with a capacity to conduct a minimum of 1,500 tests per day in Lagos and 1,000 tests per day in FCT and other states.
“As the transition from sporadic cases to community transmission can be extremely rapid, the testing strategies outlined will be pursued nationally, while implementation of the testing modalities will be implemented in phases as the resources become available.
“It (is) possible that these scenarios may be occurring at the state level and various states will be at various stages of the pandemic. The success of this strategy is dependent on the ability to leverage existing molecular diagnostics resources in the country to support the COVID-19 response,” the document read.
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The NCDC added that it will, from April 2020, work with existing laboratories to ensure that everyone who meets the case definition gets tested.
It also stated its resolve to expand testing capacity to six more molecular laboratories in the country within the next one month, resulting in a total of 14 laboratories.
It also disclosed that from laboratories used for testing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and tuberculosis will be repurposed from May 2020 to conduct testing for Coronavirus.
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The centre added that it will roll out mass testing to survey the population between May and September 2020.
A total of 493 cases of Coronavirus has been confirmed in Nigeria, with the disease spreading to 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as at Friday.
The death toll from the virus stands at 17, while 159 persons have recovered and been subsequently discharged.