COVID-19: Lagos Engages Local Scientists to Produce Reagents

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Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi
  • Says it has tested 16,000 residents so far
  • To commence home isolation, treatment soon

By Martins Ifijeh

Due to the global shortage of reagents for testing suspected cases of COVID-19, the Lagos State Government has engaged the services of local scientists to produce alternative testing materials.

It said it had also tested 16, 000 residents since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, and that it would soon commence home isolation and treatment for patients following the rise in number of cases in the state.

Stating these during a press briefing on Thursday, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said engaging local scientists will ensure the state no longer have to worry about not having supplies to test suspected COVID-19 patients .

He said: “We have engaged scientists here to produce alternative reagents. Two of the scarce reagents have been produced locally already, thereby taking the pressure of chasing manufacturers of reagents overseas.

“With availability of reagents, we will start doing 1,000 tests per day within the coming days. Although we have done the highest testing in the country since February 27, which are over 16,000, this new approach of engaging local scientists will help increase the capacity.

“The cost of testing a patient ranges between N40, 000 to N50, 000, but it is free for patients because government bears the cost. Efforts are on to get the cost subsidised through insurance or donations by aid partners.” the commissioner said.

He also mentioned that the state will be validating a rapid-testing model which will give hospitals the opportunity to test any person coming to the medical facility under 10 minutes, adding that some manufacturers have been engaged for this activity.

He said Lagos was reviewing Bio-security Emergency Preparedness Plan that will enable it ramp up capacity of its healthcare system and emergency response for future pandemics, noting that this plan will raise government’s capacity in controlling water-borne, airborne infectious diseases.

Abayomi said: “Post-COVID, the state will be looking at urban renewal plan that will ensure people don’t live in a way that aids the spread of infectious diseases.

“We are also in the process off regularising home isolation and treatment for COVID-19 patients in the state. We are planning to make home isolation and care an official option for some patients, especially those with mild symptoms of the infection.”

While explaining the reason for this rationale, the commissioner said it was due to an increase in the number of people avoiding isolation centres and practising self-treatment at various places.

“There are people who are already practising self/home-isolation on their own because we can’t find them. Some give us false numbers, while some do not answer their phones. When you go out to pick them at their residences, they abscond. So, they are isolating themselves in different places. In effect, the concept of home-isolation is being practised by many Nigerians, even though it is not yet a state or national practice.

“The people of Lagos are practising home isolation which is one of the reasons that we as the government are trying to transition to home care because it is happening anyway, we might as well regularise it and make it an official option,” the commissioner said.

Abayomi said the state’s isolation and treatment centres were currently 60 to 70 per cent filled, adding that the state has a total number of 569 bed-capacity space across eight isolation and treatment centres.