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Nigeria’s COVID-19 Testing Centres Must Increase – Hon. Toby Okechukwu

Coronavirus Nigeria

Coronavirus Nigeria

Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Toby Okechukwu is not happy with the insufficiency of coronavirus pandemic testing centres in Nigeria.

Reacting to the comments credited to the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekwazu that just 2,000 Nigerians have been tested for COVID 19 in the last one month, Toby disclosed that the figure is just not right in a country with 200 million people.

According to him, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 need to urgently upgrade the 34 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratories to COVID-19 centres for mass testing if we are to succeed in our fight against the virus.

He added that Nigeria must increase its testing capabilities from the present 7 test centres in order to successfully track down the over 6,000 COVID-19 contacts.

His words, “The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has told us that only 2,000 Nigerians have been tested in over one month of combating COVID-19. This figure is quite low for a country of about 200 million people.

“Our first line of responsibility on this, therefore, is to ensure that testing services are available in, at least, all the states of the federation. If we are tracking over 6,000 contacts, then we need more testing facilities.

“We just have to scale it up across the country to enable us to ascertain the true extent of the outbreak in the country. Let us know how many Nigerians that are exposed, let us isolate, and let us test maximally”.

“There are critical aspects here, such as prevention, testing, tracking, isolation, case management, dealing with the social interventions, and of course evaluation.

“For instance, how many Nigerians do we intend to test by the end of April? How many new testing centres are we expecting?”

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Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold (among other possible causes, predominantly rhinoviruses), and others that can be lethal, such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Symptoms in other species vary: in chickens, they cause an upper respiratory tract disease, while in cows and pigs they cause diarrhea. There are yet to be vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

Coronaviruses constitute the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae, in the family Coronaviridae, order Nidovirales, and realm Riboviria. They are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry. The genome size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 27 to 34 kilobases, the largest among known RNA viruses. The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning “crown” or “halo”, which refers to the characteristic appearance reminiscent of a crown or a solar corona around the virions (virus particles) when viewed under two-dimensional transmission electron microscopy, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes.

Human coronaviruses were first discovered in the late 1960s. The earliest ones discovered were an infectious bronchitis virus in chickens and two in human patients with the common cold (later named human coronavirus 229E and human coronavirus OC43). Other members of this family have since been identified, including SARS-CoV in 2003, HCoV NL63 in 2004, HKU1 in 2005, MERS-CoV in 2012, and SARS-CoV-2 (formerly known as 2019-nCoV) in 2019. Most of these have involved serious respiratory tract infections.


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