The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, says at least 6,000 people are being traced in Lagos and Abuja over their contacts with coronavirus patients.
Ihekweazu disclosed this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television.
He also said not less than 2,000 people have been tested across the country, explaining that since there is no known vaccine for the virus at the moment, the best way to prevent further spread of COVID-19 is for people to limit movement and contact.
“We appeal to Nigerians to bear the few weeks of pain to come and let’s see whether we can get on top of this,” Ihekweazu said.
“These weeks will allow our teams to have access to the contacts that are living around Lagos, FCT. We are following over 6,000 contacts of these 111 confirmed cases across these two cities. Every time we have a new case, we add about 50 to 60 contacts that we then have to follow every single day for 14 days.
“We hope that we can really use this time to buy some time to get ahead of the cases and ultimately see that curve start going down but in the next few days, we still do expect an increase in cases.
“We have currently tested well over 2000 people, we will update those figures today or tomorrow. We have increased the number of labs in our network to 6. We are activating Abakaliki today. There’d be a 7th lab in our network.
“We’re maximizing the opportunity of the equipment that we have and at the same time rolling out new labs. We’re very focused on increasing the testing capacity. We are being boxed down by people who do not require the test.”
Asked how long it takes for a test to be carried out and the result released, Ihekweazu said at present, it takes 24 to 48 hours, adding that the centre is working on bringing it down to 12 hours.
He further explained that some tests are delayed because it is carried out twice to ensure that the results are accurate.
“Molecular testing is carried out in runs. One run can take 6 to 7 hours. We have now almost optimised the process to do three runs a day in each lab. And that’s why you have seen the numbers rise because we are testing more samples and producing more results,” he said.
“It depends on many things. In 24 to 48 hours. We’re trying very hard to reduce that. Our target is to get out results in 12 hours.”
On what the chances of a person cured of the disease being reinfected are, he said, “It is only with time that we can know if individuals can be reinfected.”
The NCDC boss said while the government did not employ the use of force to make residents comply with the restriction orders in Abuja as well as Lagos and Ogun states, it is hoping on Nigerians to “to do this for themselves and their country.
“But the key thing in the president’s speech like you would have noticed is that we’re not rolling out the military or the police to ensure that people stay at home. We are really appealing to Nigerians to do this for themselves and their country,” he said.