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Thursday, 23 April 2020

We are not playing numbers game with other countries, says NCDC on COVID-19 test

We are not playing numbers game with other countries, says NCDC on COVID-19 test

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director of general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says the country is not playing a game of numbers with tests for coronavirus.

Speaking at the media briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Thursday, the NCDC DG said Nigeria had fared well in the fight against coronavirus.

A journalist had asked if it should not be a source of concern that African countries that recorded cases after Nigeria had tested far more people than Nigeria.

The journalist cited South Africa with over 120,000 COVID-19 tests and Ghana (0ver 60,000 tests) as examples.

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In his response, Ihekweazu said: “We have a very good strategy around testing. Yes, the numbers are always being thrown at us, Ghana, South Africa, but we are not playing a numbers game.”

“So I think there would be a change in the numbers. But to be honest, we are not playing a number game with testing. We have a strategy and we will stick to that strategy and make sure we deliberately increase the number of tests while testing the right people at the right time.”

Ihekweazu also addressed the demand of making testing mandatory as a measure to detect cases on time and to limit community transmission.

“Not even the most resourced country in the world has made testing mandatory.Before we test anyone, we go through a risk assessment to make sure it is appropriate to test you,” he said.

“Up until recently, we had about five thousand tests but in the last week, we have gone up from five thousand to ten thousand.

“So if you imagine, from the beginning of the outbreak to last week, we’ve tested five thousand, then in the last week, we’ve tested another five thousand. And we are going to continue scaling our testing rapidly.”

In its latest report released on Thursday evening, NCDC said a total of 9,522 persons had been tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria out of which 873 tested positive.

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