THE Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) has approved the setting up of a COVID-19 testing center at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, (COOUTH) Awka, Anambra State, a few days after Intersociety, a non-governmental organization demanded that testing centers be urgently created in the state.
The NGO had called for three testing centers for Anambra to be located in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi, citing “the fragility of the State particularly Onitsha and its environs as ‘the gateway into the South East and entire old Eastern Nigeria’ and possible danger of COVID-19 explosion awaiting same.”
Noting that Onitsha particularly sits on a keg of gunpowder, the NGO stated that a testing center at Awka will serve parts of Enugu State while the one in Onitsha, will serve key parts of Delta State and with one at Nnewi, parts of Imo State will be served.
Meanwhile, the approval for the testing center in Awka is seen a part of on going efforts by the Federal Ministry of Health to expand testing centers across board as enunciated in a document, “National Strategy to scale up access to coronavirus disease testing in Nigeria.”
The Chief Medical Director of the teaching hospital, Dr. Basil Nwankwo, who also confirmed the designation of hospital as a COVID-19 testing center, said that the state governor, Willie Obiano wants testing to commence immediately, promising “to do all within our capacity to support the fight against the spread of the scourge.”
In the meantime, the Federal Ministry of Health with the NCDC will scale up diagnostic centres in the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in a bid to test more people and understand the transmission of COVID-19, according to the document.
In its letter “Urgent Call For Three Testing Centers In Anambra To Avoid Repeat Of Kano Harvest Of Infections & Deaths,” to the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Intersociety had asserted that the NCDC needed to do more in testing in fighting coronavirus.
It stated that with “only 12 functional testing facilities in eight states with the capacity to conduct minimal of 1500 tests per day in Lagos and 1000 tests per day in Abuja and others,” Nigeria’s record on testing, with its estimated population of 200 million was not encouraging.
It noted further the Nigeria lags behind even in Africa, where “the country is widely surpassed by many in the areas of testing capacity and procurement of testing equipment and trained personnel.”
Calling for three testing centers for Anambra to be located in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi, Intersociety stated: “This state Government seems to be taking for granted. It recently said, it was relaxing the lockdown in the state so as to avoid ‘unrest and hunger.’