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PTF: We now have more labs but less demand for COVID-19 tests

PTF: We now have more labs but less demand for COVID-19 tests
April 13
19:27 2020
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Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19, says more laboratories have been made available but the demand for testing has reduced.

This is coming after TheCable reported that Nigeria had only tested 5,000 people in six weeks, while Ghana — a less populous country by far — had tested over 37,000 people in four weeks.

Aliyu disclosed this on Monday during the PFT briefing on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), there were 11 COVID-19 testing laboratories in Nigeria as of Saturday.

“Part of the reason why we have not proceeded as fast as we can is because of the demand as well. We are not having as much demand for testing in those labs that we have activated,” Aliyu said.

“And I am asking particularly the labs that have been activated in there last few days to please put forward processes that would allow them to key in particularly in areas where there are suspected cases of COVID-19 and to widen their scope when it comes to selection for testing based on our protocol so that we can have more positives identified and isolated.”

Asked if the criteria for testing would be relaxed given the reduction in demand for tests, Aliyu said there is no plan for mass testing.

He explained that the test kits are expensive and have to be deployed for optimal use.

He added that testing would be restricted to persons with symptoms as those in the incubation period may get a false result.

“Is it time to relax the criteria? Absolutely not. Remember, these test kits are expensive and every country in the world wants it. There is no room for community testing for coronavirus,” he said.

“I would rather conduct hundred tests and get 10 positives than do a thousand tests and get 10b positives. It is all about improving the efficacy of the test. It is much better to test people that have symptoms because what we call the pretest probability is much higher.

“If you do the test during the incubation period, which ranges between two to 14 days, the result could be negative. You could still be in an incubation period and it will give you a false assurance that everything is alright. That is why we do not recommend doing the test in the absence of symptoms.

“So, absolutely not, we are not going to start doing mass testing.”

South Africa, with less than a third of Nigeria’s population, has tested more than 75,000 people.

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1 Comment

  1. Achuma
    Achuma April 13, 20:21

    You turned people away earlier. Have you gone back to look for them? So, why wouldn’t the demand to test reduce? People have lost trust in this system that is replete with lies, half truth and propaganda.

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