The federal and state governments must increase their testing capacity in order to have a full status of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition of labour and civil society groups working on the impact of COVID-19 across Nigeria, said yesterday.
The group, Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) led by prominent lawyer and human rights activists, Mr. Femi Falana, said without mass and effective testing of Nigerians, the daily figures released by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) would fall short of representing the actual extent of the outbreak.
Nigeria currently has testing capacity for 1,500 people, which is one of the lowest per average in the world.
“Nigeria is far from knowing its real coronavirus pandemic status. The total number of Nigerians confirmed positive as at last week was about 4,300. This does not appear to reflect the reality given the poor public access to testing. It is unfortunate that Nigerian testing capacity is lower than what is obtainable in Egypt, Ghana and South Africa,” ASCAB said in a statement signed by the group Secretary for Publicity, Mr. Adewale Adeoye.
The group said the various authorities have effectively enforced the lockdown while in many cases government officials are breaking the no-travel and social distancing rules.
According to Adeoye, “We cannot claim to know the average number of people that have contracted coronavirus in Nigeria. The testing capacity for 200 million people is very poor. Brazil tests about 8,000 people in just one day. It means in 10 days, Brazil tests 80,000 people, almost three times the number of tests carried out in 60 days.
“This continues to raise fundamental issues about how long Nigerians will live with the virus.”
ASCAB lamented that with the attitude of federal and state governments to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second and third waves of infections in Nigeria are almost certain unless drastic steps are taken to improve the current lowly reputation of the country.
It, however, commended health officials across the country for their bravery and rare sacrifices at a difficult moment in Nigeria’s history.