The Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire and Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu have said that more coronavirus positive cases are expected, as the country expands its testing capacity.
The duo made the revelation during the daily briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Abuja on Thursday as more laboratories are being opened.
Speaking, Ehanire, who noted that contact tracing and testing capacity are being ramped up; which means that more and more cases will be found and the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases is expected to rise initially.
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“We also worry about persons, especially Nigerians, returning to the country through land borders, who run a higher risk of infection while in a confined space for a long time, like transit in a crowded bus or car.
“With the expanded national case definition and the addition of two laboratories to the NCDC network of COVID-19 molecular laboratories, the national testing capacity has increased. Moreover, the lockdown in high burden States presents the advantage of reduced population mobility and leaves more people at home to be found during contact tracing.
“All of this means that more people and samples can be collected and tested more quickly, giving a shorter turnaround time, but it also means that more cases will be discovered initially than before.”
He revealed that 71 per cent of the over presumed 6,000 or more contacts have now been traced, he said the effort will be intensified and the number of confirmed cases will be rising dramatically.
“We shall continue to expand the number of isolation centres and prepare ICU units across the country for those who may have complications”.
With the addition of the labs, the NCDC test capacity is expected to increase to 1500 per day. On the part of Ihekweazu, he noted that Wednesday, April 1 witnessed the largest number of positive cases but we had also the largest number of people tested.
“We make sure that we prioritize getting back the results to all the positives. There has been some delay in calling all the negatives, but we are working on that and by the end of today we should be through with the backlogs.
“We currently have 15 Rapid Response Teams supporting 15 States, which is the largest deployment of public health resources for an outbreak ever in our country. Unlike other outbreaks that are localised, but this time every day we add a new state. Every single day, we have to deploy a new team which requires resources – people, logistics, efforts.
“We are building up on some of the investments we have made over the last few years. Over the last few years, we have set up 22 public health emergency operation centres (EOCs) in States. Our plan was to scale it up to 37 to cover all the states including the FCT. Unfortunately, we were not quite there when this outbreak struck. But this will give us the opportunity to invigorate our efforts because it is within those EOCs at the states level that the response comes together”.