Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Tuesday said 276 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded across the country. NCDC said Lagos reported 161 of the new cases. According to the NCDC report, Rivers recorded 36 new cases, Edo recorded 27, Kaduna got 19, Nasarawa had 10, and Oyo recorded six new cases.
There were also four new cases found in Kano, three each in Delta and Ebonyi, two in Gombe and one each in Ogun, Ondo, Borno, Abia, and Bauchi. The number of discharged cases rose from 2,311 on Monday to 2,385. However, 16 more deaths were recorded, taking the nation’s toll to 249. A total of 8344 cases have now been recorded in 34 states and the FCT. The number of recoveries is now 2385, while Nigeria has recorded 249 deaths. While less than 100 fatalities were recorded in the past two weeks, the number of recoveries increased significantly. As of May 11, a total of 902 patients had been discharged, while 152 deaths had occurred, but by May 18, recoveries had increased to 1,644, with 191 deaths recorded.
The numbers are expected to rise as the NCDC increases testing capacity, but according to Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, nine out of ten patients will recover from COVID-19. The NCDC has activated an additional two laboratories, bringing the total number of its laboratories to 28. Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja that the agency was pleased with the activation of the two laboratories for inclusion in its molecular laboratory network.
Ihekweazu said that the two laboratories were located at Afriglobal Medicare Laboratory in Ogun and the Sahel Centre for Molecular Diagnostics and Research, Katsina State. He said that the NCDC had a testing strategy, adding that it was using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to scale for the COVID-19. “At the moment, the COVID-19 tests that we report daily are coming from the PCR. It detects genetic information of the virus, the RNA. PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen rather than the presence of the body’s immune response or antibodies.
“By detecting viral RNA, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early,” he said.
Ihekweazu said that PCR remained the most accurate method to determine infection. He noted that by scaling PCR testing to screen nasopharyngeal swab samples, the NCDC officials would get a better understanding of the level of spread of the virus. He, however, noted that PCR tests could be labour-intensive, with several stages at which errors might occur between sampling and analysis.
“This is why the agency has focused on strengthening quality assurance in its network of laboratories.
Countries have adopted varying strategies for COVID-19 diagnosis; in Nigeria, it is important that we get it right. Nigeria has its own national testing strategy for COVID-19 with detailed information on how we will ramp-up testing for various phases of transmission by leveraging existing technology. We are thinking ahead and also have plans in place to meet the demand for testing at various points of the response,” he said.
NAN reports that NCDC has more than one laboratory in some states such as Edo, Lagos and Kano.
The laboratories are at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, FCT; Defence Reference Laboratory, FCT; Virology Laboratory of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Biosafety Level-3 Laboratory, Lagos State, and Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo.
The others are at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos State, Virology Laboratory of University College Hospital, Oyo State. Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, and African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Osun.
It also has laboratories at the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau; Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano State; DNA Laboratory, Kaduna State; University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Centre for Advanced Medical Research and Training, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, and Africa Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology, Ahamadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.
The laboratory is also located at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research, Bayero University Kano; 54gene mobile laboratory, Ogun; 54gene mobile laboratory, Lagos State; 54gene mobile laboratory, Kano State; Mobile laboratory, Delta State; University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Satelite Molecular Laboratory, and University of Benin Teaching Hospital.