The Federal Government says it would convert tuberculosis’ diagnostic machines in the country to coronavirus detection machines.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said this while speaking at a press briefing held by the Presidential Task Force on coronavirus, to update the nation on coronavirus outbreak in the country.
He said the 300 Gene Xpert machines used for tuberculosis would be converted to testing COVID-19 detection and were expected to be used within the next two to three weeks.
He noted that the high number of cases recorded in Lagos and Abuja was due to their functions as a gateway for international air travel.
Ehanire revealed that NCDC had engaged hundreds of ad-hoc staff to support call centers, contact tracing, and laboratory work.
He added that preparations were in full gear for about 1,000 beds in Abuja, to be used immediately as isolation centres if the need arises.
Ehanire said more testing sites have been opened in Ibadan and Abakaliki, while existing laboratories were being optimized in their performance.
He added that more laboratories would join the network of molecular diagnostic laboratories for COVID-19 in Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, and Sokoto states soonest.
The event Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who also spoke at the event said there was ongoing follow up to trace about 5,000 contacts across the country and appealed to residents of Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun states to make the job easier by obeying the Presidential directive to stay at home.
He said,” The strategy that we are still implementing is one of containment; it means that we are still at the point when we think we have the window of opportunity to identify all the cases and confirm if they have the disease, bring them into care, confirm all their contacts, follow up on each of them, make sure that they do not have the disease, and for those who have the disease bring, them into care
“This is one of the reasons the President asked us what we needed and gave us two weeks to free up the road and enable us to have the space to do this effectively.
“This comes at some pain to many Nigerians in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, but it is a necessary recommendation in order that public health workers working particularly in Lagos and Abuja have the opportunity to reach all of these contacts and make sure that they are okay. Those that have any symptoms are brought into care as quickly as possible.
“With our effort focused on those that are infected and their contacts and secondly among everyone else, together we can control the further spread of this outbreak. But we really need everyone to support us, as we hope to use this small window of opportunity to see whether we can bend the curve, get this outbreak under control and get back to day-to-day life.”