Some professional associations in the health sector on Sunday said Nigeria must step up its testing capacity to successfully battle the spread of COVID-19.
The groups, including the Nigerian Medical Association, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, said it was not enough for the federal and state governments to impose lockdown on citizens without ensuring that those who had been infected with the virus were fished out and tested.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on March 29, ordered lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states to trace and treat people that had contracted coronavirus.
Some state governments, including Osun, Rivers, Katsina and Kwara, on their own also ordered lockdown of their states.
According to www.worldometers.info, as of 10pm on Sunday, Nigeria had tested 5,000 people, while 37,954 persons were tested in Ghana. On the her hand, South Africa had tested 80,085 of its citizens.
The World Health Organisation had, last week said there was an urgent need to increase COVID-19 testing in Africa. It advised that testing must go beyond cities.
When COVID-19 was first recorded in the country on February 27, Nigeria had five centres, where the virus could be tested. The centres were increased to 10 on Friday.
Cases more than what govt recorded – Nurses
Commenting on Nigeria’s testing capacity, the President of the NANNM, AbdulRauf Adeniji told newsmen that COVID-19 had brought to the fore problems in the country’s health sector.
He stated, “The truth is that we are not well-equipped for the virus. Before COVID19 came to Nigeria, the minister (of health) said we were equipped, but it is clear that our infrastructure cannot handle the testing capacity.
“People can have the virus and will not know it and still mingle with health officials and even their families thereby spreading it. We are playing with the tail of a rattle snake in this country.
“What I am saying is that the number of people, who have coronavirus in Nigeria, is more than the number recorded by government.
“The PTF (the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19) should be able to advise government properly on what should be done. The case definition is a problem. People may have it without all the conditions (high temperature, coughing and sneezing) stated. Despite lockdown, we still see people walking around.
People may have COVID-19 and seek herbal treatment – NANNM
“All federal teaching institutions must be able to, by now, test people for it. At least, in each senatorial district, there should be a testing centre.
“People may have it and seek herbal treatment while disobeying social distancing order. The commitment of our health workers is still the grace we have in Nigeria.”
There is under-testing, lockdown not effective – Resident doctors
On his part, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr Abbah Ugwu, said the government was not doing enough.
He stated, “We have limited cases because our testing capacity is not enough. We have not tested enough people as in other countries. Government it chasing thousands of people who have had contact with established cases, but I cannot say that the number we have is a true picture of the existence of the virus in Nigeria because we are not testing enough.
“There is gross under-testing of the people so the lockdown is not effective. In other countries, they have started doing house –to-house testing of their people. But it is unfortunate that we are not getting enough information from government concerning the testing capacity we have. Only increase in the number of testing will make the lockdown effective.”
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