As of the last check, Nigeria has over 17,000 cases of Coronavirus since the first outbreak on February 28.
Following the low testing rate, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on April 28 said that it had increased the number of testing laboratories for coronavirus to 17 with the announcement of mobile laboratories and since then government officials and news reports are claiming that Nigeria COVID-19 mobile laboratories. But that is INCORRECT.
The first person to share wrong information about COVID-19 mobile laboratories was Ogun State deputy governor, Noimot Salako who uploaded on Twitter that her state in conjunction with 54gene and NCDC launched the first mobile laboratory in Africa to tackle coronavirus.
Regrettably, she refused to respond to questions on how she arrived at such claim. Meanwhile, a check was done and it was discovered that she LIED.
Mobile laboratory is a laboratory that is either fully housed within or transported by a vehicle such as a converted bus, recreational vehicle, or tractor-trailer. Being mobile allows it to serve at different locations where there is a requirement for immediate laboratory testing.
When contacted for the appropriate definition of mobile laboratories, the Communications Specialist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Charity Warigon, said that mobile laboratories must be ready to move between different locations. She did not say stationed in a permanent location.
“Mobile laboratories are self-contained laboratories (equipment and biosafety levels) that are transportable. The most common are the container laboratories which can be moved between different locations”
We also asked health experts if the ‘shipping containers’ being situated around Nigeria are qualified to be called mobile laboratories.
“No, If we are to go with what is obtainable as a standard, what we have been circulated around Nigerian states are outlet laboratories, not mobile laboratories”, Salimon Olaide, the head of the laboratory at Mecure Healthcare LTD in Nigeria said. He has been a laboratory scientist for eight years.
He said because the structures can be moved does not make them mobile laboratories. “A mobile laboratory has to be ready to move at all times and not prepared to move.”
“It must contain all the essentials of a laboratory needed to carry out tests. It must be safety-oriented e.g. cross ventilation, contains all biosafety measures and must be on the wheel to move as at when needed”.
Findings also revealed that before Nigeria, on March 29, the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat announced the deployment of mobile laboratories and testing kits in partner States. Also, on April 9, South Africa launched 60 new mobile laboratories to boost the country’s capacity to test for COVID-19. Hence, it is FALSE that Ogun State in Nigeria has the first coronavirus mobile laboratory in Africa.
In addition, South Africa mobile laboratories have wheels and moveable anytime. In Morocco, mobile laboratories move from one community to another to test citizens in rural areas. In Dubai, mobile laboratories conduct COVID-19 tests for senior citizens at their homes.
This is, however, not the case in Nigeria where a container is stationed at a particular location.
We observed that NCDC in its series of tweets on laboratories never for once mentioned that the country has mobile laboratories.
Emeka Oguanuo, the spokesperson of NCDC confirmed that the agency is not concerned about whether the laboratories are mobile or not.
Our finding finds the claim that there are Covid-19 mobile testing laboratories in Nigeria as false. it is wrong to say Nigeria has any Mobile laboratory what we currently have are outlet laboratories.