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It Is Impossible To Test Every Nigerian For Coronavirus – Casmier Ifeanyi

Coronavirus NigeriaDr. Casmier Ifeanyi, a renowned laboratory scientist, molecular biology expert, and the National Publicity Secretary of Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, has come out to say that coronavirus has binary fusion of transmission.

Ifeanyi recently revealed that to win the war against the pandemic, we should have contained it and not allow it to slide to community transmission because things might get difficult from now on.

According to him, Nigeria is currently recording community-driven transmission and things can get multiplied very quickly which would be a danger to the nation.

He added that the idea of testing every citizen for the virus is impossible and no nation across the world can do it.

His words, “To have won the war, we should have contained it and not allow it slide to community transmission. Having lost the opportunities we had to halt community-driven transmission, it won’t be scientifically said that we are flattening the curve. Professor Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, had, about two weeks ago, celebrated in one of his media briefings that the curve was flattening. No; the curve is not flattening because we get all our results in retrospect. Our laboratory test results for COVID-19 testing are turned-in in arrears. The value known today is actually what it was in minimum of five days before announcement.

The lag in the turn-around time of our testing is usually what it was 3-5 days ago. Even at that, we find out that positive cases have continued to increase by the day, so no one can claim scientifically that we are flattening the curve. If we continue to get positive cases, particularly in states where we didn’t have report before like Kano that had three cases but the number jumped to about 21 in 72 hours, certainly, we are not flattening the curve.”

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“We failed to judiciously utilize the window we had to stop the pandemic from sliding into community-driven transmissions from occurring. We are beginning to record community-driven transmission which means persons who had no history of foreign travel or history of contact with foreign travel returnees are testing positive. That is an evidence of community-driven infection. COVID-19 has a binary fusion of transmission; like from 2 to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16 and16 to 32, etc. So, any person who is discharging the virus and is within the community can, on daily basis, be multiplying them in a doubling fashion and sometimes it becomes geometric. The worry is how did we get to this point? We did not close the borders on time. When we were supposed to close them and even when we eventually closed them, we were still playing politics with the intervention processes.

The laboratory testing process and the politics is still on, and if we continue with the politics, we may never be able to flatten the curve and if community-driven infection gets entrenched in Nigeria it will very disastrous. We need all hands to be on deck.

That is why we were taken aback by the tweets from the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in which he balkanized medical and critical care health professionals. It is unfortunate that the minister has wrongly chosen to reduce medical and critical care health professionals to doctors, nurses and pharmacists only. What he has done is alien to standard care practice; the worry is that it is coming at an odd time.

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Dr. Ehanire has no justification to have introduced discrimination, dissentious disharmony, and acrimony inherent in the Federal Ministry of Health against the much needed collective effort that is required to make sure we win the war against this pandemic. President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians should advise the Honourable Minister of Health to rescind his amorphous pact with doctors, nurses and pharmacists. It is reprehensible and at variance with the ethos of governance leadership and direction.

As a leader, every group whose professional input is required, including the janitors that clean the places where this service is going on, is critical. That is the practice across the globe, why the politics by the Minister of Health? It is the same politicization that destroyed the Nigerian health system. He’s doing more harm than the virus if not called to order speedily.”

“The idea of testing for everyone is mission impossible. No country in the world has tested everyone, but every country has promoted massive testing. That is to say you are supposed to redefine your criteria. You are also supposed to come up with a protocol that makes test accessible to people when they want it. We must promote willingness to be tested. What has made our testing protocol biased is because we have limited it to those who have symptoms; we have to urgently review our criteria for testing so that more people can be tested.

And asymptomatic people can be identified. The danger and the real fuel for community transmission are the asymptomatic persons. They drive it because they share the infection without symptoms so you have no form of suspicion. Again, we need to up our game on hand hygiene. There is a lot of information out there being promoted aggressively, but the materials that will help promote hand hygiene, we may begin to consider the distribution of such materials.

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The resources to test everyone are scarce and limited whereas the demand across the globe is high and the producers are no longer producing at optimal capacity now. It is making it very difficult to test everyone, but we can test more persons, particularly those who are willing to be tested and people who are asymptomatic.

Just like we did with the NAIS programme when we moved from house to house and people were tested, we can adopt the NAIS template to drive the issue of sampling and scaling up testing without literally insisting that every Nigerian be tested because we may not be able to afford to test 200 million people.”