The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says it has extended its molecular laboratories with the capacity to detect the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19), pandemic outbreak in the country, to six.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of NCDC, disclosed this to the Newsmen on Saturday in Abuja, while giving an update on COVID-19 in the country.
Recall that Nigeria had earlier set up five Molecular laboratories with this capacity.
The facilities are located in the NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, Abuja, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Redeemers University Nigeria, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos.
Ihekweazu said that this capacity had now been expanded to include the Virology Laboratory of the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
“Currently, samples from cases that meet the case definition are collected by the State Epidemiology Team, and transported through a defined process funded by NCDC, from the state to one of the testing laboratories.
“The inclusion of one more laboratory will increase the capacity to detect cases in the country,” he noted.
He further said that the establishment of COVID-19 testing capacity in the laboratories was based on existing resources.
“The NCDC Team will be in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, to set up COVID-19 testing capacity, in the existing Molecular laboratory within the state,” he said.
He stated that each laboratory costs about 150 million naira to build and equip initially, and millions of naira to maintain functionality.
He disclosed that NCDC was keeping abreast of new technologies available and validated globally, to support the scale up of testing capacity for COVID-19.
Ihekweazu added that each laboratory would continue to provide diagnostic support for a defined number of states in the country.
The NCDC boss said that the laboratories were critical to reducing turnaround time between identifying a suspected case and confirmation.
“Our strategy is to find cases quickly, isolate, follow up with contacts and treat these cases. We are working very hard to flatten the curve in Nigeria,” he added.