The Federal Government has acquired the necessary reagents to test for presence of Covid-19 (corona virus) in suspected patients.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He said the reagents were acquired about eight days ago but assured that no case has been detected in the country or in Africa. “We have the machines; they are called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines which we have here for molecular diagnostics; but we didn’t have the reagents. “Because for every pathogen, you have a specific pathogen that you will use to detect it and that one for Corona virus being a new disease was not very much available but we acquired it about eight days ago.
The Minister mentioned that three laboratories in Nigeria can test Coronavirus. In fact, they have tested two cases already which were negative—Lagos, Abuja and Irrua. Irrua, is Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence for this Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers which is the category to which Coronavirus and Lassa fever belong particularly.”
Ehanire, who said he updated the council on the state of preparedness for the trending problem of Corona virus and also the endemic Lassa fever in Nigeria, disclosed that the frontline was the port health services while the second line of defence was the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.
The Minister said the level of preparedness at international airports which were the main points of entry into the country—Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano was high. “We look at your travel history to be able to find out where you are coming from and risk you could be carrying. “Everybody who is coming from that area is given a form to fill; the form contains a number and we also take their numbers; they contact us to let them know if within 14 days of the incubation period, they have any symptoms or not. “If we don’t hear from them, we call them to find out if they are okay within those 14 days.’’
Meanwhile, on containing Lassa fever, he said there had been a few incidents that had taken place since 2020 began. Enahire said treatment and reporting had also improved while the fatality rate had dropped to 15 per cent from 30 per cent a couple of years ago.
The minister said samples had been taken from water in Benue for laboratory analysis in order to detect the cause of strange illness that had taken some lives in Benue State.