The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday said that four more test laboratories will be added to the already existing five test labs in the country to encourage more testing for coronavirus .
The Centre said the new labs will be located in Ibadan, Abakaliki, Port Harcourt and Kaduna and will be ready in the next week.
Nigeria has five facilities at the Nigerian institute of Medical research in Lagos, Lagos University teaching hospital, Gaduwa NCDC in Abuja, and two research centres in Ede and Irrua in Edo state.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the NCDC director said during an interview on Arise TV, on Friday that “In terms of testing, there are two short-term interventions that we are carrying out. First we are using some processed engineering to improve the throughput in our existing labs. In the Abuja lab for example, we have moved to a shift system. So, we are working a 24-hours in three shifts.
“In the next week, we are going to add four new labs to our network. We have worked in Ibadan over the past couple of days and we should activate it today. I have a team that have been in Ibadan for the past two days, then, we will go to Abakaliki where we have an existing lab, then we will go to Port Harcourt and Kaduna. So, these four should be ready in the next week and add to the existing capacity”.
“We are also going to convert some of the high throughput tests available for HIV. There is a PCR diagnostics that can test a large number of cases at the same time but the technology itself has to be changed and adapted for this new virus.
“That will take two to three weeks, and once we get the reagent for that, then we can do some high throughput testing and test thousands at the same time. But that will not happen until the next 2 to 3 weeks. This is the next strand of expansion that we are working on.
“There are also new diagnostics. There are people working on rapid diagnostics tests kits, and we are hoping that it can be brought to the market and we will make our purchases and procurement as soon as possible.
“Nigerians are not going to pay for any of these tests; as long as you need it, we will support the test through a public sector fund. Of course, if you want to have the test privately, we don’t have any private provision as at now, but there are groups working on it.
“If you want it done in the convenience of your house or wherever you want, there should be a private sector that can offer that to you. But that does not exist at the moment for any validated care. We are working with a group of private sector colleagues to make this happen in Lagos in the short-term and then in Abuja and spread it to the other cities”.