Pathologists Urge FG, States to Decentralise Covid-19 Testing Centres

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

As the numbers of Nigerians infected with coronavirus continues to rise, the College of Nigerian Pathologists (CNP) has asked the federal and state governments to substantially decentralize the testing centres as a strategy to accelerate the control of the outbreak.

In a press statement issued Friday by the CNP President, Prof. P. O. Olatunji, the body warned against the use of non-validated test kits in handling Covid-19 disease tests.

On the restriction of testing centres to five facilities in Lagos, Irua in Edo state, Ede in Osun State and the national reference laboratories in Abuja, CNP said there are competent pathologists and medical laboratory scientists in the tertiary hospitals that carry out COVID-19 tests thereby spreading out the testing centres across the country.

“We do not see any reason why our tertiary health care centres where competent pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are situated, cannot carry out COVID-19 tests.

“We urge the federal and state governments to deploy a portion of the COVID-19 budget to bridge whatever deficiencies exist in our tertiary diagnostic laboratories,” it said.

Olatunji said members of the CNP have been playing leading roles in case identification, case management and development of guidelines and protocol for infection prevention and control of COVID-19.

CNP also called for the adoption of a more innovative and quicker diagnostic approach as against the NCDC recommended Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) being used at the moment.

The statement also said that CNP is concerned about a possible abuse of Chloroquine arising from its purported usefulness in treating COVID-19 infection.

According to CNP, although some evidence are emerging about Chloroquine efficacy, there is need for caution against inappropriate use of Chloroquine due to its damaging effect to the eye and interference with the functioning of the heart.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics said that over 400,000 people have been infected with coronavirus, leaving more than 18,000 of them dead.

In addition, the economic fallout in economies across the globe both developed and developing has been enormous.

However, CNP said there is a cheering news as the disease has shown about 95% survival rate.

It said there is therefore no need to panic or get confused or overreact, adding that people should keep to all preventive and protective instructions — washing of hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

It advised people not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and to avoid close contact with people who are sick, sneezing or coughing.