The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that its main challenge is not testing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), but collection of samples and getting them to laboratories.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, said this at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, while giving an update on COVID-19 in the country.
Ihekweazu said that the agency would test more people as its testing capacity had improved significantly.
“The bottleneck now is in getting the samples from the right people. We are now scaling up sample collection.
”We are helping Lagos State to set up sample collection facilities in 20 health facilities in the state.
“We want to make it easier for people who need to give samples to do so.
“Our call centre capacity has also improved; so, please call us if you need to,” he said.
The NCDC boss said that the agency had the capacity to test 3,000 samples daily, but the capacity was not being fully utilised.
“That is why we focus on Lagos and the FCT because of the efforts they are making to get more people tested.”
He said that NCDC would publish a diagnostic strategy so that Nigerians would be aware of the locations of its offices.
Ihekweazu said that the agency was looking for more local manufacturers of personal protection equipment, sanitisers and other necessities.
“In every crisis, there is an opportunity; there is an opportunity for you, if you are a local manufacturer, producing in line with regulatory standards.
“Everything we buy now in NCDC is from local manufacturers,” he said.
Ihekweazu appealed to Nigerians not to stigmatise those infected by the virus.
“it could be any of us, none of us is immune to it, as it is a new disease,” he said.
It was reported that testing for COVID-19 is conducted for people presenting COVID-19 symptoms, contacts of confirmed cases, residents of areas of moderate/high prevalence of COVID-19, and recent returnees.