Why we closed Kano's COVID-19 testing laboratory

'COVID-19 patients with diarrhoea more likely to have severe symptoms of pneumonia'

The National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu has debunked reports that the COVID-19 testing laboratory in Kano was closed due to the lack of reagents.

The coordinator disclosed that it was closed after some of its staff COVID-19 test results came out positive.

This was revealed while speaking at a virtual press briefing by the World Economic Forum/World Health Organisation.

Dr Aliyu revealed that Nigeria has only 350 ventilators in the country before the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria but noted that another 100 have been added so as to prepare the country for what may come later.

"The laboratory was closed to allow for decontamination as we were unsure if the staff contracted it during analysis of samples or from outside the facility.

"The Kano testing laboratory was closed down because one or two persons in the lab acquired COVID-19. It wasn't very clear whether they acquired it in the facility or if it was brought in. This has raised concerns, so we have taken measures to disinfect the place," he said.

Aliyu disclosed that samples can still be collected as they have put measures in place to ensure samples are taken.

He also hinted that the Kano laboratory serves Katsina and Kaduna, meaning that three states are affected by the development.

The laboratory will not be closed for too long because three or four days is enough to decontaminate the facility.

Assuring Nigerians that the PTF on COVID-19 was monitoring Kano's situation closely, he said the federal government presently does not know the true number of deaths from Kano until ongoing investigation is concluded.

According to Dr Aliyu, "There are several scenarios that could be happening; one is that there could be increase in numbers of death due to COVID-19, the other possibility is that it may not be caused by the virua. You are aware that a lot of hospitals in Kano have closed so people with medical concerns are having difficulty accessing care, so the deaths may not be related to the virus. We are awaiting the investigation to ascertain the true picture.

Meanwhile, the Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who also spoke said Lagos has more testing capacity than Kano because the first cases were in Lagos, and that the state used the period to build capacity.

He said: "We will be transferring some of our knowledge from states to states. We are running against time because people are pushing to live normal life. At the same time, we are confronted with the escalation phase of the figures. So how to balance this will be very a difficult decision to be made in the coming week. We wished we had the laboratories and ventilators we need, but we simply don't, and supply chain of these things are fragmented at the moment, so we will have to make do with what is available,".

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