The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has added two new molecular laboratory centres to its testing facilities across the country, increasing the number from 26 to 28.
Announcing this Tuesday, the NCDC on its Twitter page, @NCDCgov, said the laboratories include the Afriglobal Medicare Laboratory in Ogun State and the Sahel Centre for Molecular Diagnostics and Research in Katsina State.
It said: “This brings the total number of molecular laboratory network with COVID-19 testing capacity in Nigeria to 28.”
He said that the NCDC had a testing strategy, adding that it was using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to scale for the COVID-19.
“At the moment, the COVID-19 tests that we report daily are coming from the PCR.
It detects genetic information of the virus, the RNA.
“PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen rather than the presence of the body’s immune response or antibodies.
“By detecting viral RNA, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early,” he said.
Ihekweazu said that PCR remained the most accurate method to determine infection.
He noted that by scaling PCR testing to screen nasopharyngeal swab samples, the NCDC officials would get a better understanding of the level of spread of the virus.
He, however, noted that PCR tests could be labour-intensive, with several stages at which errors might occur between sampling and analysis.
“This is why the agency has focused on strengthening quality assurance in its network of laboratories.
“Countries have adopted varying strategies for COVID-19 diagnosis; in Nigeria, it is important that we get it right.
“Nigeria has its own national testing strategy for COVID-19 with detailed information on how we will ramp-up testing for various phases of transmission by leveraging existing technology.
“We are thinking ahead and also have plans in place to meet the demand for testing at various points of the response,” he said.