Health workers at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, Abuja.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says it has traced 6,700 contacts in Nigeria over the novel Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the country.
Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed at the Presidential Taskforce briefing on COVID-19 in the country, on Friday in Abuja.
“Nigeria has been tracing a total of 6,700 contacts in all; 71 percent of them have been followed up as of yesterday (Thursday),” he said.
Ihekweazu noted that people were “graduate’ out of contact-tracing after 14 days, if they showed no symptoms of the virus.
The NCDC DG said that all the focus of the agency for this week had been to improve the levels of contact tracing, by taking advantage of the lockdown.
“In Lagos state, the lockdown has been especially helpful for our contact tracing,” he noted.
Ihekweazu debunked that NCDC would never deploy anything without validating its use.
“The Jack Ma Test kits are being evaluated at the moment, once we are sure the results are the same quality as what we have been seeing from existing tests, we will deploy them,” he explained.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had tasked the PTF not to look east or west, but to find a solution to the COVID-19 problem in the country.
“There is a lot of work happening in the background to increase testing capacity, but we need Nigerians to be patient,” he emphasised.
Ihekweazu said the updated case definition took into account, the epidemiology of the virus and the transmission pattern seen in the country.
He said the agency would continue to review guidelines such as the case definition, as more precise information emerged on the COVID-19 outbreak including characteristics of transmission and geographical spread.
“The major update to the current case definition is that any patient with acute respiratory illness within the last 10 days (fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath); and in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation.
“Those residing or working in the last 14 days in an area identified by NCDC as a moderate or high prevalence region will be treated as a suspect case.
“This is in addition to the already existing case definition where the focus was on symptomatic patients (fever and either cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath) who are recent international travels within 14 days of arrival or contacts of confirmed cases,” he explained.
He noted that NCDC would continue to increase its capacity to test for the virus. (NAN)