Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, yesterday kicked off a rapid testing initiative for COVID-19 in the state, saying the outcome of the exercise would help contain the spread of the virus.
The governor who declared open the COVID-19 Drive-Through/Walk-Through Testing, an initiative that is expected to test 2,000 samples within two weeks, at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan, said the rapid testing initiative aligned to his administration’s commitment to test at least 10,000 residents within a short time.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde as saying that the state was scaling up testing in alignment with expert opinions that the best way to contain and control the spread of the novel Coronavirus is by ensuring mass testing.
Makinde appreciated the Citizen for Citizen, a non-governmental organisation headed by the chairman of First Bank Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, which provided the 2,000 testing kits and the LifeBank Nigeria, for partnering with the state on rapid testing for COVID-19.
Speaking on behalf of the NGO, Mrs. Temidayo Olatunbosun, said the guidelines of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) would be strictly followed in conducting the COVID-19 tests in Oyo State, urging residents of Oyo State who have the COVID-19 symptoms to call the emergency operation centre for necessary action.
According to the governor, “Experts have opined that the best place to start in solving our peculiar problems is by ramping up our testing capabilities. For this reason, a few weeks ago, the Oyo State Government, in collaboration with the University College Hospital, Ibadan, set up a diagnostic centre to test for COVID-19 right here in Ibadan.
“Indeed, with social distancing through lockdowns proving to be the most effective way of checking community spread, and the fact that people can have COVID-19 and be asymptomatic, large-scale testing will help us determine where and when targeted lockdowns are necessary.”
He maintained that his administration had begun to put necessary things in place to ensure its capability to prevent, contain and control the spread of COVID-19 even before the index case was recorded in the state.
“The flag-off that we are witnessing here today is a culmination of weeks of planning and hard work. Even before the index case was recorded in the state, on the 21st of March, we had started putting things in place to ensure that we will be able to prevent, contain, and control the spread of COVID-19 in Oyo State.
“As I have said in the past, we are walking in uncharted territory, and no one can claim to know it all when it comes to the best way to handle this pandemic. We can only listen to the experts and apply common sense. Especially in Africa, and indeed Nigeria, the challenges we face are multipronged. Aside from not having health infrastructure that can handle a full-scale pandemic, we also have a largely informal economy.
“Caught between a rock and a hard place, we must find and apply solutions that are a product of scientific and logical thought. These solutions must also take our local circumstances into cognizance.
“In recent times, the Oyo State Government has come under intense criticism for not implementing a total lockdown in the state, and for not forcing people to shut down their businesses. We have seen the result of more extensive lockdowns in neighbouring states. Yet, we are not celebrating a win, because this is not a competition.