The presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 says the drop in sample collection nationwide is responsible for the dwindling cases of the disease recorded in the country.
Nigeria has recorded low COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
But speaking at the PTF briefing on Monday, Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, said the fall in COVID-19 cases does not imply that the virus’ curve is flattened.
“We are beginning to see a situation where the number of those treated and discharged exceeds the number of positive cases detected. While these figures may seem reassuring, they may be deceptive, and we cannot assume that the curve is flattening, since we are yet to perfect due diligence on our side,” Ehanire said.
“Our target is to test two million Nigerians for COVID-19 and to scale up to four million persons of which we have achieved barely a quarter.”
Elsie Ilori, head of disease surveillance at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said no state in the country collected more than 1,000 samples for testing in August.
Ilori, who represented Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC director-general, said 32 of the 36 states recorded reduced sample collection, while 478 out of 774 local government areas also witnessed a drop in sample collection.
According to her, none of the 21 local government areas in Kogi state collected samples for testing in August while only one council collected samples in July.
“In July, there were seven states with decreased samples collected, but unfortunately, in August, it increased to 32 states with decreased samples collection,” Ilori said.
“In July, we had 13 states that actually collected over 1,000 samples. For August, no state met that target. That means we had zero states collecting over 1,000 samples.
“For the local government areas, in July we had 515 that collected samples and it decreased to 478 in August. We can appreciate the decrease in August.
“In August, states with the biggest increase are Abia (682), Sokoto (331), Bayelsa (314), Zamfara (55) and Yobe (12), but the numbers are not significant at all.
“In the same month, the biggest decrease in sample collection are Kano (19,108), Lagos (13,146), Oyo (4,902), Edo (3,327), and FCT (3,322). August sample collection has decreased drastically.
“Concerning where samples are being collected, in July, in Benue, Ebonyi, FCT, Lagos, Plateau, all the LGA in these states had samples collected, while only in Delta, Edo and Ogun, only one local government area did not collect samples.
“Concerning local government areas that did not collect samples, in July, Kogi had 19 out of 20 local government areas without samples collected. Also in August, no local government in Kogi collected samples. In Katsina, only 24 local government areas collected samples – Jigawa (22), Kano (20), Taraba (16).
“Even though in Lagos all the local government areas are collecting samples, the number of samples collected was quite low. So, that brought down the number of samples collected for August.”
Boss Mustapha, COVID-19 PTF chairman, called for caution in view of the falling COVID-19 cases.
“The PTF still urges caution and vigilance on the declining numbers because the virus is still potent and very dangerous,” Mustapha said.
He also warned against the hurried reopening of schools in some states.
“Whilst the PTF does not discourage making such preparations, we need to be guided by experiences from countries such as Germany, France, the United States and the UK where opening of schools in some cities led to an increase in confirmed cases and fatalities,” he said.
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