By Abujah Racheal
The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) says increasing national testing capacity for COVID-19 will enable understanding of its burden.
The Head of Department, Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, NCDC, Mrs Elsie Ilori, made this known on Thursday in Abuja at a briefing by the Presidential Tasks Force on COVID-19.
Ilori noted that in the last 24 hours, Nigeria recorded 1,664 new confirmed cases.
“Last week, over 40,000 tests were done. This is more than 10 per cent increase in the testing done the week before.
“Since the start of the outbreak, we have worked tirelessly to achieve this (increased testing) through rapid expansion of laboratories and increased surveillance activities.
“This is enabling prompt detection of cases even at our points of entry,” she said.
She said that increase in confirmed cases remained a cause for concern.
“There is therefore need for stricter adherence to nonh-parmaceutical interventions such as proper use of face masks, frequent handwashing and maintenance of physical distance of at least two meters.
“At NCDC, we continued our operations even throughout the Yuletide.
“Several colleagues spent the holiday away from their loved ones, strengthening the nation’s public health response to this pandemic,” she said.
Ilori said that the National Emergency Operations Centre had been working hard since the outbreak of the pandemic, supporting all states in their responses.
“With increasing healthcare workers’ infection across states, strategic actions have been employed in engaging and retraining focal persons in healthcare facilities to enhance Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) practices and prevent transmission.
“We want to remind our healthcare workers not to let their guards down but adhere to IPC measures to prevent being infected.
“In the last week, we concluded distribution of COVID-19 commodities to all states as well as primary health centres,” she said.
She added that NCDC had continued to support the National Youth Service Corps as it prepared for orientation of the next batch of corp members.
“Following the success of the use of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) for screening in NYSC camps, there are plans to roll out RDTs to hospitals to enable testing for healthcare workers and patients in line with guidelines on the use of RDTs.
“We have intensified risk communication activities by engaging in media appearances, airing jingles and disseminating preventive messages to the public,” she said.
Ilori said that data showed that the majority of recorded cases were people between the ages of 21 years and 50 years.
“This poses a high risk to the elderly and vulnerable among us who may suffer severe symptoms if infected.
“The onus is on everyone, especially the young, to adhere strictly to protocols for their own health and the health of people around them.
“We are working hard to protect the health of Nigerians, but everyone must take personal responsibility to support this mission,” she said. (NAN)