- Until recently, Africa only had two laboratories for testing the coronavirus – one in Senegal and the other in South Africa.
- Now, Nigeria has not one but three testing centres. Ghana, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone also have laboratories.
- There have about 45 suspected cases in Africa so far in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Botswana. Most of them tested negative. The remaining 10 are still being tested in quarantine.
Following the continuous spread of the deadly coronavirus, several countries across Africa including Nigeria have set up testing centres.
Nigeria's Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made the announcement at a briefing at the State House in Abuja.
According to him, these designated laboratories are located in Lagos, Abuja and Irrua in Edo states.
He also revealed that Nigeria now has the capacity to detect and isolate any Coronavirus case due to scientific and technical support from the Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC), World Health Organisation (WHO), and other partners.
“Since the emergence of the coronavirus, we have been working every day to learn as quickly as possible about this new virus. Ongoing research on its transmissibility and virulence will determine our response across Nigeria," the minister added.
The WHO has sent kits to 29 laboratories across the continent to ensure that they have what they need to deal with the virus.
Explaining why it took some time for African countries to get the right tests, Michel Yao, the WHO’s head of emergency operations in Africa, said, “The lack of reagents is what delayed the capacity in African countries for confirmation. We are working around the clock to ensure they receive reagents (so they can test for the virus).”
Concerning the ability of health systems in African nations to cope with a coronavirus outbreak, he said it would present “quite a challenge”.
In his words, “I can tell you straight away the capacity to manage a large number of patients is not there in many African countries. We remain concerned. That’s why we are ensuring health systems are on high alert. With the exception of large countries like Kenya and South Africa, most African hospitals have very limited intensive care facilities. A hospital may have only 10 beds capable of intensive care. Imagine having a cluster of cases that requires intensive care."
Coronavirus update in Nigeria, Africa
Meanwhile, Nigeria just had its second coronavirus scare. Last week, there were rumours of infected people of Chinese descent living in Gowon Estate, Alimosoho in Lagos.
The state commissioner of health, Akin Abayomi, responded to the claims on Twitter. "There is no case of COVID19 in Lagos, Nigeria. Investigations has revealed that the alleged cases in Gowon, Estate, is baseless and unfounded," he tweeted.
He added, “We also call on Lagosians not to engage in circulating false news of diseases outbreaks. This is considered a serious offence with biosecurity implications.”
The Minister of Health has maintained there is still no confirmed case of the virus in Nigeria or Africa.
So far, the coronavirus outbreak, which originated from Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, has since spread to over 25 countries.
There are over 37, 000 confirmed cases, 14,840 new infections in Hubei while the death toll has climbed to 1,367.