Saturday, 23 May 2020

List Of 20 States Without Covid-19 Testing Centres In Nigeria

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages in the country, 20 states are yet to have testing laboratories. Some of the states experiencing community transmission are among the top 10 with the disease. This is happening as Nigeria’s testing capacity still trails behind what obtains in neighbouring African countries. As at Friday, Nigeria had 26 laboratories spread across 17 states.

The country has also tested 40, 043 samples. This is far below the target set by the Federal Government to have about 68 test centres for COVID-19. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in its strategy document published on April 15, projected establishing 68 testing centres and two mobile laboratories within 45 days.

States without COVID-19 laboratories have lamented that they encounter hurdles sending samples to Abuja or other neighbouring states, as well as long waiting time for results. They said the absence of testing centres was one of their major challenges in the ongoing fight against the virus.

Some states have to wait for over a week to get test results, with some of their drivers getting infected in the process of transporting samples. Checks  revealed that Akwa Ibom, Benue, Bayelsa, Enugu, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Ekiti, Bauchi, Ondo, Zamfara, Abia, Taraba, Kogi, Cross River, Katsina, Gombe, Kwara have no COVID-19 testing laboratories. Some states have laboratories in hospitals or private facilities that could be upgraded for COVID-19 testing, however, that has not been done till date. Ogun State, for instance, has established a molecular laboratory but still sends samples to Osun because it awaits NCDC accreditation. The state is in close proximity with Lagos, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

However, some states can boast of two or three laboratories. They are Kano, Ogun, Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kaduna, Sokoto, Edo, Anambra, Borno, Osun, Plateau , Oyo, and Ebonyi, among others. They, however, said there was minimal support from the NCDC or the Federal Government in setting up or funding most of the laboratories. In Gombe State, there is no testing laboratory for COVID-19. Here, samples are sent to the NCDC in Abuja for daily test. The state’s focal officer on COVID-19 response, Dr Mohammed Kwami, said the test results usually come out in at least 48 hours, after which they are scanned and sent back to the Special Task Force on COVID-19 secretariat. He said taking the samples to Abuja on a daily basis was not convenient, but added that they are using the channel as a temporary measure, pending when the state would get its own laboratory.

Addressing newsmen on the preparation to get state-owned laboratory for COVID-19, the chairman of the task force, Professor Idris Mohammed, said the state government had already procured the PCR machine, which is expected to arrive this week. Bauchi State is one of the top 10 states with COVID-19 cases but has no testing laboratory. The state Task Force Response Committee on COVID-19 initially sent samples to the NCDC laboratory in Abuja, but recently started taking them to the National Research Institute, Vom in Jos, Plateau State.

Also, Nasarawa State does not have a COVID-19 testing lab. Samples are sent to the NCDC reference laboratory in Abuja for tests. Recently, an NCDC driver who helped in transporting samples tested positive for the virus. However, the state has established six sample collection centres, in addition to the hospitals where samples are taken. Governor Abdullahi Sule said this became necessary after the state registered its first coronavirus patient. A source in the state Ministry of Health, who preferred anonymity, said it took between four days and one week for results of samples to be returned. In April, Governor Sule bought 24 Toyota Hilux vehicles, estimated at N21 million each, which were said to be official cars for state lawmakers.

The government, however, claimed the cars were ordered before the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, Niger State does not have a COVID-19 laboratory. Most of the samples it collects are sent to Abuja for tests. The commissioner for health in the state, Dr Muhammed Makusidi, said it took between three to five days before results arrived. He said the state governor has given approval for the establishment of COVID-19 laboratory. Makusidi also disclosed that the state-owned Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, had eight PCR machines, adding that the state would leverage on that to set up a laboratory in Minna.

In Yobe, the commissioner for health, who is also the vice chairman of the committee on COVID-19, said the state earlier transported its samples to NCDC accredited laboratories in Abuja for tests. But with the establishment of a molecular laboratory in the neighbouring Borno, Yobe now sends samples to Maiduguri for testing. The commissioner, however, emphasised that with the new Federal Government’s arrangement to convert tuberculosis diagnostic machines for coronavirus detection, the state would soon begin testing as it has the machines on ground. Furthermore, testing for COVID-19 has not begun in any laboratory in Kogi State.

However, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Haruna, said a dedicated Biosafety lab was located at the Specialist Hospital, Lokoja and has the capacity to test the virus. “We are awaiting the validation of the existing state-owned PCR and GeneXpert machines. We have placed an order for the procurement of a mobile molecular laboratory,’’ he said. Samples from Kwara State are taken to Ibadan for testing.

A member of the State Technical Committee on COVID-19, who does not want his name mentioned, said the time of the results also depended on how quick the samples get there because other states also go there. “But it does not exceed 48 hours for the samples to be returned to the state,’’ he said. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said the NCDC team was expected in the state in the coming days to discuss the possibility of having a testing centre.

Also, the Bayelsa State Government is yet to have a laboratory for COVID-19 patients despite the strenuous processes of transporting samples to Edo, and recently, Rivers State. The deputy chairman of the COVID-19 Committee on Task Force in the state, Dr Inodu Apoku, recently decried the delay of moving samples from Bayelsa to Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo State, especially with border restrictions in states. He said that most times, it takes a week before a sample could be returned after test. But with the recent opening of a modular laboratory in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, the sample for the state could be transported for test and returned within hours or few days.

However, earlier this month, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly approved a request from Governor Douye Diri to collect a N2.9 billion loan to purchase operational vehicles for the governor, deputy governor and other top government functionaries. Governor Diri was granted the loan by the State Assembly following a motion moved by the leader of the House, Monday Bubou-Obolo. The Abia State Government sends samples to Ebonyi for analysis.

A member of the COVID-19 Management Committee in the state said there were plans by government to establish a testing laboratory in the state to bridge the gap between the time samples are taken and when the results come out. At present, there is no testing centre in Katsina State, but a process is being worked out between the NCDC and a private laboratory to commence testing by next week. The executive secretary of the state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Shamsu Yahaya, told our correspondent that the NCDC was expected to accredit the laboratory in line with private-public partnership.

 Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos Daily Trust Saturday learnt that collected samples are taken to either Kano or Abuja. Again, there is no COVID-19 testing centre yet in Zamfara State. Samples are taken to the neighbouring Sokoto for testing, the publicity secretary, Sub-committee on Task Force on COVID 19 in the state, Alhaji Mustapha Jafaru Kaura, told our correspondent. He said it took 72 hours for results to be returned to them.

 He also said the state government had purchased testing facilities. “We have invited the NCDC to inspect the facilities,’’ Kaura said. Governor Matawalle has, however, come under heavy criticisms for purchasing and distributing exotic cars to commissioners in his cabinet despite the challenges of the new coronavirus, especially as there is no testing centre in the state.

The governor was said to have distributed cars to 19 commissioners in the state, which the opposition alleged cost N570million. Ondo State does not have a testing lab for COVID-19. The driver who takes the samples to Ede contacted the virus and is being treated at an isolation centre. According an epidemiologist in the state, Dr Stephen Fagbemi, it takes two days to get the results.

He said the state was believing that the Federal Government would provide a lab for them, adding that plans are already underway, albeit very slow. In Ekiti State, there’s no testing laboratory for COVID-19. Samples are taken to Ede in Osun State or Lagos, as well as the NCDC lab in Abuja. Checks by our correspondent showed that the results come out between 24 to 72 hours, depending on the number of samples. The Task Force Committee on COVID-19 recently announced the arrival of its molecular laboratory in Ado-Ekiti, but testing has not begun.

Source:Daily Trust

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