Only 2.1 % Nigeria’s population tested for COVID-19 – NCDC  

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, says over 4.5 million Nigerians, representing only about 2.1 per cent of the 215, 266, 984 population have been tested based on the Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

The NCDC, via its verified website, explained that the 4.5 million tests carried out in the country were done two years after COVID-19 was first detected on February 28, 2020.

It said the testing ratio represented an anti-climax in Nigeria’s response strategy when assessed side by side with countries like South Africa, which had 38 per cent, Morocco, 30 per cent and Zambia, 18 per cent.

The NCDC noted that although Nigeria grew from having just four molecular biology testing laboratories to over 140, including those privately owned, the country only grew by testing sites and not in testing capacity.

The public health agency also confirmed that 254,945 people had tested positive to the virus, revealing that 3,142 of those infected with the virus had died, based on data published on its microsite on March 13.

Reacting to this, Dr. Solomon Chollom, pioneer National Secretary, Society for Scientists in Infections Diseases, said Nigeria’s testing capacity was stunted by the deployment of low throughput platforms as against the use of high throughput ones.

He said, “Other possible reasons are weak surveillance and contact tracing system, lack of motivation of health professionals and the preponderance of negative publicity which characterised every step of the response.”

Dr. Chollom advised that it was important for Nigeria to have a holistic review of its strategic response to COVID-19.

He said this would help to strengthen the weak areas and midwife a better response strategy in the future.

A Health Economist, Dr. Abigail Banji, said for Nigeria to continue to combat COVID-19 effectively, all relevant agencies must focus on supporting four priority areas.

“Scale-up of vaccination, advance COVID-19 rapid antigen Self-Testing, access to COVID-19 treatment, and promote public health and social measures,” she added.

Dr. Banji explained that this would make the country to achieve its priority goals, adding that there was a need for sustainable collaboration.

She advised Nigerians to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The health economist observed that though new COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the decline globally, the pandemic was far from being over.

“There are still many countries with high rates of hospitalization, deaths, low rates of vaccine coverage and high transmission. Nigeria is included. The threat of a new and more dangerous variant remains very real,” Banji warned.

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