COVID-19: DPR Reviews Isolation Period for Offshore Oil Workers

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By Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja and Peter Uzoho in Lagos

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has recommended the use of Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Ag-RDTs) for offshore workers in the oil and gas industry.

It said the move was to curtail the seven to 10-day isolation period for oil workers and reduce the psychological effects and cost implication of the time it takes to undergo the mandatory isolation for COVID-19.

DPR, in a statement in Abuja by its Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Paul Osu, said that a circular had been forwarded to oil and gas industry operators and all industry service providers on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the new development.

The circular said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for two rapid diagnostic tests, namely SD Biosensor and Abbott, which both have above 80 per cent sensitivity and 97 per cent specificity.

According to the circular, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has subsequently approved their use in Nigeria as contained in the guidance for the use of approved COVID-19 rapid testing kit released in January 2021.

”Consequently, the DPR is by this circular, advising operators and service providers to commence the use of these approved Ag-RDTs with the aim of addressing the cost implications and psychological impacts on staff due to the current practice of mandatory 7-10 days isolation to and from offshore/ remote locations.

“Ag-RDTs can typically be conducted within a short turnaround time of 10 to 30 minutes by medical personnel with the requisite training, ” the circular said.

The DPR urged operators to adhere to the NCDC guidelines, including those that relate to counselling, stressing that isolation and national case management guidelines should be followed.

“For asymptomatic case or a high-risk contact who tests negative on Ag-RDT, a PCR confirmation test becomes mandatory to rule out COVID-19,” the circular said.

It urged all operators and service providers to comply with the NCDC guidelines on the use of COVID-19 testing self-reporting case investigation form (CIF).

It directed them to submit monthly returns of summary of test results to the DPR for the monitoring of industry performance.

“While hoping for the imminent end of this global pandemic and early return to normal operations, please be rest assured that DPR will continue to support your business and facilitate continuity of operations in overriding national interest,” it stated.