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NCDC pledges 2 Million tests in 3 months

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Out of about 200 million Nigerians, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has set a target to test two million people for COVID-19 across the country in the next three months.

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, described the target as very ambitious, and therefore sought the collaboration of all social partners, and the state governors to achieve this target.

Speaking during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Ihekweazu, said the laboratory strategic group that is responding to the outbreak has set itself a target of testing two million people in the next three months.

According to him, the goal of the response team is to avoid a single case in any of the four states still without any reported case of COVID-19, adding that the goal was really to avoid transmission, infections and to keep the states with no case or few cases exactly
that way.

“How are we going to do this?” The NCDC boss said Nigeria has learnt from countries that the only way to achieve this is to test many
people.

Ihekweazu said: “The laboratory strategic group that is responding to this outbreak has set itself a target of testing two million people in the next three months. This is a very ambitious target. We are working very hard with our development partners and all our friends to equip our labs to be able to do this. “It is going to cost us a lot of money but we can’t do this without a lot of collaboration from everybody. A country that has achieved a lot more in terms of testing is South Africa. Not only that they have tested more, they have tested more as a proportion of their
population.

“We are lagging behind, but now we have to catch up. So, when I referred to this, it is really an epidemiological indicator of how well a response is doing. In order to test two million people in three months across the country, we need to test about 50,000 per state plus- minus, depending on your population size.
“There is no other way we can do this, we need cooperation and collaboration of every state government in Nigeria, every department of public health, and we need the collaboration of the people living in these states.”

He added: “The only entering point into control of this outbreak is through testing. We really cannot understand the size of the problem if we do not test. So, we are going to try, working with all our partners.

“We have built on our lab size, and expanded capacity. Now we need to build on the supplying side so that we see the samples coming.

There is no other way to do this than working collaboratively with our biggest clients, for us as a government, the state government and
their teams.”

Over the next few weeks, Ihekweazu said he would be engaging aggressively with every state, “getting them buy in, asking them to
work with us as we increase capacity to test, but also increase capacity to send in the samples.”

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