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COVID-19: Reopen All Labs And Keep Isolation Centres Open, PTF Tells States

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Authorities in all 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been asked to reopen all laboratories and scale up the testing for COVID-19.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the appeal on Tuesday at a briefing in Abuja.

“We wish to urge all states to reopen all laboratories and ensure that testing is expanded and turnaround time for results is substantially reduced.

“In the same vein, states should please keep their Isolation and Treatment Centres open because of the rising cases of infection nationwide,” he told reporters at the briefing.

Nigeria has tested 937,712 samples, out of which 84,811 infections have been confirmed, 12,190 cases are active, 71,357 people have been discharged, and 1,264 fatalities recorded – as of 7pm on December 29, 2020.

This data is according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s micro-website dedicated to monitoring the outbreak in the country.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), added, “Reports received also point to the fact that laboratories recently established in the states are not working optimally.

“You will recall that we moved from two laboratories to about ninety (public and private) located in all states of the Federation. Their inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results and pressure on the national reference labs.”

A screenshot taken on December 29, 2020, shows Nigeria’s COVID-19 data.

He announced that effective from January 1, 2021, the passports of the first 100 passengers that have failed to take their post-arrival PCR test would be published in the national dailies.

According to the PTF chairman, the passports of the erring returning travellers will be suspended until June 2021, to serve as a deterrent.

On the issue of oxygen availability as critical to the success of managing the outbreak, he noted that a review of the chain for the supply of medical oxygen for facilities across the country was ongoing.

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