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Nigeria now has three laboratories for Coronavirus test – Health minister

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday said Nigeria has established three laboratories to confirm any case of Coronavirus in the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, briefed State House correspondents after FEC meeting today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the laboratories were located in Lagos, Abuja and Irrua in Edo state.

The minister said no person had contacted the virus in the country and Africa, saying the two cases tested so far were negative.

He said, “Since about eight days ago, we obtained the reagents necessary; we have the machines; they are called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines which we have here for molecular diagnostics; but we didn’t have the reagents.

“Because for every pathogen, you have a specific pathogen that you will use to detect it and that one for Coronavirus being a new disease was not very much available but we acquired it about eight days ago.

“And now three laboratories in Nigeria can test Coronavirus and in fact, they have tested two cases already which were negative — Lagos, Abuja and Irrua.

“Irrua, as you know is Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence for this Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers which is the category to which Coronavirus and Lassa fever belong particularly.”

Dr Ehanire, who spoke on why the virus had not been reported in Africa, said that for a disease to enter a place, somebody or something must carry it.

“As far as Coronavirus is concerned, it is human to human transmission; maybe, we have been lucky that no person carrying that Coronavirus has entered our country and none has come here undetected.

“And we are particularly happy that the Chinese Government is conducting what is called exit screening.

“They not only screen those who are entering their country, they screen those who are leaving; so that if they, themselves see any person who has any sign of being sick or having Coronavirus, they will restrain that person from travelling.

“This is helpful to other countries; so that you reduce the risk of anybody just coming here like that,” he said.

The minister, who updated the council on the state of preparedness for Coronavirus and Lassa fever, said the fatality rate from Lassa fever had dropped to 15 percent from 30 percent a couple of years ago.

The minister ruled out the possibility of Coronavirus or Lassa fever in Benue state following strange illness that had claimed some lives.

Dr Ehanire, who said samples had been taken from the environment and water in Benue for laboratory analysis in order to detect the cause of strange illness, warned people against using chemical to catch fish.

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