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COVID-19: PTF concerned Nigerians are not coming forward to test for infection

Frontline workers at the Thisday dome| Photo credit: Federal Ministry of Health

MON, AUG 17 2020-theG&BJournal– The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) has expressed strong concern that Nigerians are not coming forward to test for coronavirus infections.

The PTF warned the low numbers of confirmed cases currently being recorded across the country does not mean that the pandemic is over.

‘’This is a reflection of the number of test we are doing- three and half thousand tests, but this is still insufficient and not widespread,’’ says the coordinator of the PTF Dr Sani Aliyu.

‘’One of the main drivers of this is the poor demand that we have across the country. Having opened 64 laboratories, our capacity for testing is about 10,000 but people are not just coming forward,’’ he added.

He suggested the reasons for the test apathy maybe because of the stigma, discrimination which continues to be key factors not only in our inaction but also non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols.

‘’It is important to know that for every single case that tests positive we are missing a lot more.  So as matter of urgency, we really need people to get tested in other to get a clear idea of COVID-19 transmission in the communities. Importantly, if people don’t get tested, they risk endangering our older and vulnerable population who are at much higher risk.’’

He said the majority of people who get COVID-19 in Nigeria are between the ages of 20-39 and these are the very group who are either asymptomatic or with very mild infection but still are able to transmit to others and they are also the group that are least likely to comply with the non pharmaceutical interventions.

‘’So as a country we need to understand that COVID-19 is still a significant threat to us as well as to the rest of the world and more importantly, it is only by testing that we can get on top of the problem-testing, as well as making sure that we follow all the preventive measures.”

”If we all test, if we all increase our testing capacity, if we are able to define were the problems are the faster we will be able to get on top of this pandemic and the earlier we will be able to normalise,’’ he said.

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