The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has announced the inclusion of two more laboratories into the country’s COVID-19 pandemic molecular network.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, NCDC Director-General, told newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, that this brought the total number of molecular laboratories in the network to 17.
Ihekweazu, giving an update on the laboratory, said that the agency was working closely with more private laboratories to expand testing capacity in Nigeria.
Newsmen report that on March 27, the NCDC announced via its Twitter handle that this is part of the laboratory strategy developed.
The NCDC director-general said that two private laboratories were now on board- the DNA laboratory in Kaduna and the 54 Gene laboratory in Lagos and Ogun – all private sector laboratories.
According to him, the 54 Gene will be the first to launch the first mobile COVID-19 testing laboratory in Ogun using a 40ft container.
Ihekweazu said that all these were aimed at scaling up testing across the country for mobility, speed and access in order to win the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the country now has the capacity to do a minimum of over three thousands tests daily.
“However, a critical challenge remains sample collection and transportation to the relevant laboratories, which is still a work in progress,” he said.
Iheakweazu further said that the agency had carried out about 12,004 tests across the country and was working hard to improve the numbers.
He expressed gratitude to the people who responded to the agency’s call for extraction kits on April 26.
The director-general said the measure was taken to ensure that the country maintained its testing capacity.
“The new testing technology, using the ROCHE COBAS system does not require extraction kits which are in high demand and low supply around the world.
“Therefore, the agency is focussed on working with its partners to quickly activate the use of this technology,” he said.
On test kits developed in Senegal, Iheakweazu said that the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) was coordinating and providing guidance to all countries on accessing the kits.
“Currently, the kits have not been manufactured for wide use, but NCDC will explore the opportunity base on regulatory approvals, validation and other guidance,” he explained. Newsmen report that NCDC has fully set up expanded laboratory network for COVID-19 across the six geopolitical zones, as 13 laboratories had been activated.