Shortage Of Coronavirus Test Kits: NCDC Explains Nigeria’s Challenges

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, lamented on Sunday that Nigeria lacked adequate stock of the RNA extraction kits to cater for the expansion of its coronavirus testing capacity.

Dr Ihekweazu said the NCDC was working to get more supplies of test kits to its stock on his twitter handle, @Chikwe_I, and gave the specification of the ones Nigeria was looking for and preferred manufacturers.

He said, “We’re desperately looking for more RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) extraction kits as we expand #COVID19 testing. Product: Total viral RNA extraction kits (preferably spin column and with a lysis buffer). Manufacturers: Qiagen, ThermoFischer, SeeGene, Inqaba, LifeRiver etc.”

The NCDC DG also informed that the centre has set up two more laboratories to the existing 13 laboratories established in the country.

However, the fear that Nigeria might lack enough kits to test suspected coronavirus cases was raised by Dr Ihekweazu’s tweet.

Addressing a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the NCDC DG declared that they would increasethe country’s coronavirus testing capacity to 4000 samples per day across the country with half of that to be done per day in Lagos State.

The NCDC’s call for more kits was a response to the increasing public apprehension and observations that the centre was not responding to demands of Nigerians for testing of reported suspected cases.

According to a PUNCH newspaper report: “A grandmother, Salma Ahmed had, in a video, alleged that the NCDC failed to pick her telephone calls, when she wanted to seek the agency’s assistance for her son-in-law, who later died of COVID-19 in Kano.

“In the video released from her home in Abuja, Ahmed said her son-in-law was left to die from the virus in Kano after suffering neglect in the hands of the NCDC officials.

“Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebu-Olu Adegboruwa had, in a statement last week, said his friend who had difficulty in breathing, was told at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos to wait till next week.

“When contacted on Sunday for update on the case, Adegboruwa said the friend eventually contacted the testing centre at Eti-Osa and he had been booked for testing for Monday (today).

“Ghana tests 100,622; S’Africa, 161,000; Egypt, 90,000; Nigeria, 10,061

“At 6:03pm on Sunday, reported that Ghana with 1,550 confirmed cases and a population of 30.9 million people had conducted 100,622 tests.

“South Africa with 4,361 confirmed cases and a population of 59.1 million people conducted 161,000 tests.

“Also, Egypt with 4,319 confirmed cases and a population of 101.9 million people conducted 90,000 tests. Djibouti with 1,023 confirmed cases and a population of 985,433 conducted 11,741 tests.

“Kenya with 355 confirmed cases and a population of 53.5 million conducted 17,492 tests. Nigeria with 1,182 confirmed cases and a population of 205.2 million people conducted 10,061 tests.”