6:48 PM July 01, 2022

High charges for PCR test, inadequate testing frustrate Nigeria’s effort to curb COVID-19 – Experts

Healthcare experts say Nigeria needs to develop new modalities to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, noting that the testing procedure must be improved to protect the nation.

They stressed that the country must improve its COVID-19 testing to guaranty control efforts.

According to them, lack of adequate testing, cost of testing, and sticking to the methods of testing can undermine efforts to curtail the infection.

Recall that despite the efforts by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the Presidential Steering Committee, and other partners to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity, the number of people tested for the viral infection in the country so far remains low.

Data from the NCDC as of January 6, 2022, showed that out of the 206 million population, only 3,863,081 have been tested since the first case of the virus was detected on February 27, 2020.

Experts, however, warned that Nigeria may not be able to control community transmission even with the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus and future variants.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Community Medicine and Public Health, Adesegun Fatusi said the lack of adequate testing in the country undermines efforts to control the pandemic in the country.

 “In terms of testing modalities, we started testing everybody using the polymerase chain reaction machine and it takes a lot of time for the result to be out but now we are using the antigen. What we need to do is continuously focus on the rapid test and it should be available widely. People should be able to test themselves at home.

“We need to deploy means that will ensure that people can test themselves so that we can capture more people very early before they can spread it to other people.

“We need to encourage people to test more and see how the test kit can become widely available in the country,” Fatusi, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, said.

Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the Head Of Infectious Disease Unit at College of Medicine, University of Lagos, and Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Iorhen Akase noted that inadequate testing undermines the control measures of COVID-19 in the country.

He said that there is a need to redefine the role of testing for COVID-19 on many levels.

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