Testing labs for COVID-19 still under-utilized, says Sani Aliyu

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Dr. Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), has lamented on the under-utilization of the COVID -19 testing laboratories.

“A lot of our labs are underutilized; their capacity far exceeds what they’re getting in terms of samples for testing,” he said.

He also stated that “Every State has an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for COVID-19.

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"Most States have hotlines, that you can call to report symptoms and to get advice on how you can be tested.

“As you’re aware the PTF has been intensifying efforts to increase COVID-19 testing throughout the country.

“From zero Labs providing testing in early February, we’ve moved to about a handful of labs in March and we now just over 30 laboratories throughout the country.

“But what we have realized is that there is clearly a lack of demand a lot of these laboratories are under utilized, their capacity far exceeds what they’re getting in terms of samples.

“So today I’ll be emphasizing the symptoms and how to get tested.

“The symptoms of COVID infection include fever, which is found in the majority of cases, a cough and shortness of breath, but it may also include sore throat, a loss of smell or taste, chest pain and occasionally even more severe symptoms including collapse.

“Early detection of these symptoms, taking the appropriate testing steps and adequate monitoring and treatment is the only way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

“It’s therefore important if you have come in contact with a COVID possessive case or have related symptoms please take appropriate steps for testing.

“So how would you go about if you want to get tested, so throughout the country every state has a state emergency Operation Center, most states will have a state hotline, you can get the details of the helpline, the telephone number from the NCDC website.

“Or if your state does not have a helpline, you can call the NCDC helpline directly to provide you with additional information and on the next steps to take.

“Some states also have websites and they provide information on the numbers, in terms of Jingles, on the radio, social media as well as TV adverts.

“Once you call, you will be asked for your address and either of two things could happen if you’re not very symptomatic, you’ll be asked to go to a testing center.

“Today in the FCT, the Honorable minister of Health had a meeting with NCDC and members of the FCT health department and in Abuja alone we are opening up seven new collection centers to enable people to be able to go straight to a testing center if they need to have a sample taken, sample testing center.

“This approach will be expanded across the country so that there will be more and more sample collection centers in local governments throughout the country and we will definitely be prioritizing this for the hotspot local governments that we will be targeting in the coming weeks.

“So after you’ve had your sample taken, you will be asked to self isolate if you’re having symptoms until you receive your result. By self-isolation, we mean keeping away from the public as well as a household members where possible, wearing a face mask properly to cover both your nose and mouth, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and frequently disinfecting your hands with soap and water or a disinfectant as well as disinfecting any surfaces that you may have worked on.

“You’ll be contacted with your results, if your results are positive and you have mild symptoms you will be asked to isolate, if you have severe symptoms, you will be taken into Hospital set up otherwise the isolation Center may not necessarily be a hot Hospital set up depending on the arrangements in your state. Some states have a home isolation, such as Lagos if you do not have symptoms.

“It is important that if you have moderate to severe symptoms to report to hospital immediately for urgent care.

“So, please work with us to stop the spread of a COVID action now if you feel you have symptoms, or you have been in contact with someone with the virus and remember for the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 is not a death sentence, many people are recovering as we can see and continuing on with their daily lives but what is important is if you have symptoms to be able to access a centre for sampling to have your tests done and to know what your result is so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones and you can make sure you’ve taken the appropriate steps to ensure a healthy living and survival.”

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