From Moses Emorinken, Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed that its focus right now is on Kano State because of the emerging issues of increased infections of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.
It will now be channeling its energy and resources to beefing up the response apparatuses – testing and treatment of infected persons in the state, even as it monitors the response activities in other states of the federation.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known on Monday at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He said: “Earlier when we started this work we gave a lot of briefings on what we were doing in Lagos because that was really where the burden of infection was at that time. Now we are focusing a lot of our energy on Kano.
“This is not because Lagos State is no longer important; we still have the largest number of cases reported from Lagos every day, and it has about 50 percent of all the cases in Nigeria. So they need constant support and we will continue to give Lagos State that constant support.
“However, we have an emerging issue in Kano, and therefore some of our thinking and resources have to focus on Kano.
“We have now reactivated the two laboratories in Kano State – Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital Lab and the Bayero University Lab located literally a few meters from each other.
“The other thing we did was that we haven’t just activated the labs and left. Because of what happened the last time, we have actually left a number of our colleagues to stay there and mentor their colleagues to make sure that things are working well and that they are able to do the tests. This will ensure that we do not end up with the situation we ended up the last time.
“Therefore, the speed of testing is a little bit slower than you would expect but that is the price that we will have to pay in order to get this up and running and I am very confident that we will leave that lab not only better for now but also better for the future.”
The NCDC boss added: “We have a long-term plan for the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital Lab to become the Centre of Excellence for molecular laboratory testing in the country.
“The other thing we did was support the delivery of a new lab altogether; a new lab that was funded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and delivered by a Nigerian company called 54gene. The entire conceptualization and delivery happened in 7 days. We will over the weeks build up its capacity to 400 tests per day and plan to expand more.
“We are not only mobilising the Federal Government funds but also from the private sector; all channeled through one response to support the government of Kano State and the Emergency Operations Center set up there.
“The focus right now is getting Kano State up and running but our eyes are on every other state. We have Rapid Response teams right now deployed in 34 of the 36+1 states in Nigeria, supporting every state to build up their own response, department of public health, and the state epidemiologist.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his address said: “The Federal Ministry of Health is strengthening its support for Kano with service delivery and training, in consultation with His Excellency, the Governor.