The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says it has successfully validated capacity to test for the novel coronavirus in Nigeria at its National Reference Laboratory. Disclosing this in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said samples from patients that meet the national case definition to coronavirus can now be confirmed in-country.
On the 1st of February, we validated our capacity to test for the novel coronavirus at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, NRL. This means that we are now able to test samples from patients that meet the national case definition of the novel coronavirus here in Nigeria. Speaking on NTA News Now Programme, Ihekweazu said the NCDC was unrelenting in efforts to protect Nigerians from the spread of infectious diseases. In strengthening our surveillance and preparedness for the novel coronavirus, we’ve reviewed these criteria as additional information on nCoV2019 becomes available.
He noted that the Port Health Services of the Federal Ministry of Health is on high alert and has heightened screening measures at various points of entry including temperature checks, combined with investigative questions on known symptoms. We have also initiated a multi-sectorial Coronavirus Preparedness Group Led by the NCDC. This group meets daily to assess the risk of importation of the disease to Nigeria.
Nigeria has 5 labs to diagnose Lassa fever
On the Lassa fever outbreak, the NCDC boss stated that there are 258 confirmed cases and 41 deaths. The bad is news is we have more cases of Lassa fever than we have seen at this time of the year. The good news is fewer people are dying of Lassa fever. We are getting better at managing this disease. Every year we get better and invest more, our great team at NCDC are focused 24/7 on managing Lassa fever in Nigeria. Our appeal to state government is to not wait till Lassa fever comes, we need more resources committed to prevent and control this disease.
The earlier you come to the hospital if you notice symptoms of Lassa fever and the right diagnosis is made the better we have a chance of helping you survive. Further, Ihekweazu said: we have five labs in our network to diagnosis Lassa fever which ensures samples are tested faster: for, many years, people were misdiagnosed with various illnesses which could have been Lassa fever. We are finding more cases now because we have improved our capacity to detect and diagnose Lassa fever over the years, he noted.
Who campaigns against misinformation?
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has warned of the dangers posed by the spread of rumours and misinformation about the new coronavirus. In a statement in Geneva on Monday, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the global health body is working with Google and other major social media platforms to combat widespread misinformation on the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“We have worked with Google to make sure people searching for information about coronavirus see WHO information at the top of their search results. Social media platforms including twitter and Tiktok have also taken steps to limit the spread of misinformation”, Tedros said.
Who warned that the 2019-nCoV outbreak has been accompanied by a massive “infodemic”, which is defined as an over-abundance of information? Some accurate and some not that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.
The WHO said it had risk communication and social media teams “working 24 hours a day to identify the most prevalent rumours that can potentially harm the public’s health, such as false prevention measures and cures”.