Nigeria had its highest daily Coronavirus (COVID-19) toll on Thursday with 681 new cases, as the total number of confirmed cases jumps to 14,554.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced on its official Twitter handle, that out of the total 14,554 cases, 9,673 active cases 4,494 cases have been treated and discharged and 387 deaths have been recorded in 35 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
While reporting that five deaths were recorded on Thursday, NCDC said that Lagos State recorded more than half of the new 681 cases with 345 infections. Rivers State came a distant second with 51 new cases.
Other States with new infections include Ogun (48), Gombe (47), Oyo (36), Imo (31), Delta (28), Kano (23), Bauchi (18), Edo (12), Katsina (12), Kaduna (9), Anambra (7), Jigawa (5), Kebbi (4), Ondo (4), and Nasarawa (1).
But Nigerian healthe authorities are not worried about the high numbers, saying that it is to be expected because of increased testing.
Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said on Thursday that “as we have eased the restriction that we have instituted across the country, we have expected the numbers to increase. We have announced it several times to expect an increase in numbers. So, this increase in numbers is not unusual.
“As we increase testing and relax the lockdown, this is a virus that goes from one individual to the other, therefore, it is most likely that we will see an increase in numbers. Whether that increase continues or not depends on our collective action.
“Sometimes, these numbers are necessary to remind us of the reality. While the number of deaths as a proportion might appear small, these are all people that many of us have gotten to know, and every day, you get to hear about one other friend or relative that, unfortunately, have passed away.”
NCDC also said that it will from Sunday, June 14, commence the usage of the GeneXpert machines to test for COVID-19 cases.
“We are ready to do that GeneXpert labs in locations and will start functioning on June 14,” the body said.
GeneXpert machines, manufactured by the US-based firm, Cepheid, is one of the most widely-used TB diagnostic tools globally.
Nigeria currently has at least 400 GeneXpert instruments deployed in 399 health facilities across the country meant for tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis.
NCDC said that with the challenge of limited kits for COVID-19 testing in the country, some of these machines in each State will be re-configured for COVID-19 testing.
“Each of the GeneXpert instruments in the country has 4-testing modules with testing capacity of about 24 samples per day. There are also available in the country two mobile laboratories equipped with two GeneXpert instruments each. These will be deployed as needed to support COVID-19 testing surge in target states,” NCDC stated.
The agency stated that it has been working hard over the last two weeks to distribute the cartridges to the first seven centres to train them to make sure they are ready and on June 14 they will start testing.
The NCDC, however, decried the poor turnout of test samples from the States across the country.
The body stated that though the available laboratories could test up to 10,000 samples per day, they were only working at about 10 to 20 per cent of their capacity.
“The labs are there, the samples are not coming in as sufficiently as we want. We have this weekend for every state to push harder,” it stated.