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Kano Government directs civil servants to stay at home, bans viewing and event centres as COVID-19 2nd wave continues to bludgeon Nigeria

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Clinicians preparing for ward rounds at the Isolation centre in Kano: Photo Credit NCDC

By Audrey Lotchukwu

TUE 19 JAN, 2021-theGBJournal- Kano State Government has imposed fresh ban on the activities of viewing and event centres across the state following increasing COVID-19 cases.

The state commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, who made the revelation in a statement, said the measure was part of decision at a stakeholders meeting held at the Africa House, Kano on Monday.

He said that all civil servants in the state have also been directed to stay at home pending further instruction.

Workers on essential services such as the healthcare service providers, fire service, water board, teaching staff, security guards and the media are exempted from the ban.

The commissioner reaffirmed government’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders that included the Ulama to ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 Protocols.

He also warned that security agents who were part of the stakeholders meeting would not hesitate to take stern measures to ensure compliance with the directive.

Kano State has recorded a total of 2, 617 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Nigeria reported fresh confirmed 1, 617 cases Monday, a total of 112,004 cases and 1449 fatalities. 89, 939 patients have so far been discharged. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the discharged cases include 289 community recoveries in Lagos State managed in line with guidelines.

Meanwhile, the NCDC has published new guidance for State Governments, public and private institutions, on the use of approved Antigen (Ag) based Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In September 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) of two Ag RDTs, manufactured by SD Biosensor and Abbott for COVID-19 testing. Following this, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in collaboration with other stakeholders carried out a national validation of these RDTs. The validation which was carried out during the screening held at National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps, showed that the RDTs meet the minimal standards for sensitivity and specificity of COVID 19 diagnostic tests. As more Ag RDTs gain EUA from WHO, we will consider their use in Nigeria.

This new guidance published by NCDC, is to guide the use of RDTs in Nigeria. We are recommending its use, primarily in congregate settings. These include settings such as schools, hospitals for the testing of patients with symptoms of COVID-19 presenting in hospital triage areas and periodic testing of health care workers, in prisons etc.

While RDTs provide a faster turnaround time compared to the molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, there are limitations with this test. For example, the currently available Ag-RDTs have a lower sensitivity compared to PCR tests. The test can therefore present false negative results in people who have been infected with the virus. This is why the molecular PCR method remains the gold standard for testing. An algorithm has been included in the guidance to ensure that cases such as this are not missed.

The NCDC is introducing the use of these rapid antigen tests, to contribute to Nigeria’s overall COVID-19 testing capacity. The Ag-RDTs provide significant advantages over other available testing methods, especially in terms of shorter turnaround times and reduced costs. The correct use of Ag-RDTs will also enable the Government of Nigeria to increase the pace of testing, tracing and providing care for people with COVID-19.

The Ag-RDTs developed by Abbott and SD Biosensor are highly portable and easy to administer. However, infection prevention and control measures must be adhered to by trained health workers administering the test. Further information on this is contained in the guidance published by NCDC.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, NCDC has continued to lead Nigeria’s public health response activities. As part of this, the agency has been leading the expansion of testing capacity across the country. Till date, 112 public and private testing laboratories have been activated across all states and the Federal Capital Territory. Of the 112 laboratories, 74 of these are public health laboratories and provide testing free of charge to the general public.

It is important that Nigerians are aware of the increasing risk of spread of COVID-19. As of the 17th of January 2021, over 100,000 people have been infected with more than 1,400 deaths from COVID-19 in Nigeria. We urge all Nigerians to take responsibility to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. Please practice regular handwashing, avoid mass gatherings, wear a face mask properly and ensure physical distancing at all times.

The NCDC remains committed to working with State Governments, other institutions through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and partners to strengthen Nigeria’s COVID-19 prevention and response activities.

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