Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has identified testing for COVID-19 as one of the weakest parts of the nation’s response to combating the pandemic.
Ihekweazu, who spoke on Wednesday in an interview on a TV programme, said his agency was working aggressively to increase the testing across the country, especially in line with its ambitious target to test 2 million people in 3 months.
He said: “We are working very aggressively to increase the testing in Nigeria. This is one of the weakest part of our response because we started from a very low base initially but we have worked extremely hard to move from 5 to 35 laboratories right now with their ability to test for COVID-19.
“We have carried out the highest number of test over the last few days and we will keep increasing this progressively across the country.
“Testing is such an important entry point in the response because of the number of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic infections that we have. We have to really ramp up our testing because it is an eye into the outbreak. We can’t manage something we can’t measure sufficiently.
“We also have our eyes on the future because we never want to be in a situation that we are right now. The Africa Centre for Disease Control has been a great support for this.
“We set a very ambitious target for ourselves about a month ago, to test two million people in 3 months. We are not yet meeting that target but we are well on our way to do so as we introduce new testing opportunities using the genexpert platform, the Abbot platform that we use for HIV into the testing apparatus in Nigeria.”