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Kogi and Cross River have tested only 8 persons for COVID-19 – why it matters



Kogi and Cross River have tested only 8 persons for COVID-19 – why it matters

Kogi and Cross River are the only states in Nigeria that are, on paper, free of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. That may have something to do with the fact that the two states combined have tested only eight persons so far, according to the latest NCDC data.

  • Kogi has tested only one person, while Cross River has tested seven.
  • Unsurprisingly, both states have the lowest number of tested persons, followed by Yobe which has 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases from just 50 tests.

Why it matters: The governments of both states have refused support from the NCDC and outside supervision of the efforts they claim they are making. By so doing, they are running with a dangerous assumption that no one has the disease and could be losing crucial time to prepare.

The absence of tests also leaves both states with no reliable data that would allow for quick identification of the sources of the disease and targeted planning for spread prevention and control.

Although the non-essential interstate travel ban announced by the President temporarily confines the possible fallouts within the two states, the danger of another cycle of infection remains for whenever the ban is lifted. Not to mention the weak enforcement of the ban.

What they are saying: The governments of Cross River and Kogi have peddled a conspiracy theory that they are being pressured to announce confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their states. Kogi State’s Commissioner for information and Strategy, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo claimed last weekend that the state acquired testing kits independently and ran over 100 rapid tests that returned negative.

But medical authorities have dismissed their claims. The Nigerian Medical Association called the actions of both governments ‘unfortunate and condemnable’ and demanded urgent intervention from the President.

The big picture: The data released by NCDC also showed that Nigeria has tested a total of 35,983 persons as at the 17th of May. Compare that with South Africa which has conducted over 400,000 tests, even though it’s population is less than a third of Nigeria’s. Given the importance of adequate testing to the safe opening of the economy and enforcement of safety guidelines – as seen in the example of other countries, both positive and negative – Nigeria must ramp up its testing capacity fast.

Peter Adeshina is a journalist who reports politics, policy and governance.

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