Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director-General (D-G), Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), has urged the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to expand case definition for COVID-19 testing.
Salako made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
“In the last week or so, there has been a gradual reduction in the number of people that come out for testing, that is why Lagos State started the house to house testing.
“I believe NCDC should also look at that possibility or expand their case definition so that it is not just people with travel history or those that have contact with them or have COVID-19 related symptoms.
“Everybody that has contact with any confirmed case should be tested immediately rather than wait for 14 days before carrying out a test on them.
“That will still be a very targeted high testing of high-risk people, so, I think we need to expand that for more people to be tested,” he said.
The director-general said that funds should be committed to enabling the institute to carry out research work on locally made diagnostic COVID-19 test kits.
“We expect that the government will earmark some money for research that can assist us, especially to build our own local diagnostic kits.
“As it is now, we are using foreign kits and if we have an upsurge more than what we have now, we may not have enough testing kits.
“If we have funds to research into building testing kits, we can do that and I also heard that Kenya has done their own local kits.
“We have the capacity to produce these kits but we don’t have the funding for it, we have been talking to everyone we know to fund some of the equipment required to produce the kits,” he said.
Salako added that the institute also engaged with a company to sterilise locally made face masks.
“Presently we are engaging with an innovation company called “Home Creation Hub” in Yaba, Lagos, they are producing face masks.
“We thought we should sterilise the masks before giving it out to the public for use, ” he said.