The Federal Government has acquired necessary reagents to test suspected cases of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid) in Nigeria, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said on Wednesday.
Besides, Dr. Ehanire announced the establishment of three laboratories across the country to test suspected patients for the disease. He briefed reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, chaired by Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The designated laboratories, he said, have been set up in Lagos, Abuja and Irrua, in Edo State, pointing out that the reagents were acquired about eight days ago.
He, however, noted that no case of the virus has been detected in the country or in Africa.
Ehanire said: “Since about eight days ago, we obtained the reagents necessary; we have the machines; they are called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines which we have here for molecular diagnostics; but we didn’t have the reagents.
“Because for every pathogen, you have a specific pathogen that you will use to detect it and that one for Corona virus being a new disease was not very much available but we acquired it about eight days ago.
“And now three laboratories in Nigeria can test Corona virus and in fact, they have tested two cases already which were negative — Lagos, Abuja and Irrua.
“Irrua, as you know, is Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence for this Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers which is the category to which Corona virus and Lassa fever belong particularly.’’
On why the virus had not been reported in Africa, he said that for a disease to enter a place, somebody or something must carry it.
He said that a person could bring a disease while an animal might carry it as in the case of mosquitoes for malaria and rats for Lassa fever.
“As far as Coronavirus is concerned, it is human to human transmission, maybe, we are lucky that no person carrying that Coronavirus has entered our country and none has come here undetected.
“And we are particularly happy that the Chinese Government is conducting what is called exit screening.
“They not only screen those entering their country, they also screen those who are leaving; so that if they themselves see any person who has any sign of being sick or having Coronavirus, they will restrain that person from travelling.
“This is helpful to other countries; so that you reduce the risk of anybody just coming here like that.’’ he said.
The minister also informed the Council that the death rate of Lassa Fever has dropped by 50 percent, following efforts of the government and health institutions in the country.
Ehanire’s Works and Housing Babatunde Fasola, said his ministry presented a memo to the Council for additional works to be done on the Abuja-Kano Expressway, which he said, was approved at the cost of N867.263 million.
Fashola said: “The Ministry of Works and Housing presented a memorandum to appoint a consultant for the engineering design of additional lane for the Abuja-Kano Highway for N867.263m. The council approved that memo for the work to be executed in five months.
“As you know, the Abuja-Kano road is already under construction. It was awarded in December 2017. Works started in the middle of 2018. We review that project, giving that that road was built in the early 90s. With traffic growing there now that we are working there, we consider expanding the carriageway from two lanes each way, making four lanes to three lanes each way, making six lanes.
“We have to design an additional lane on both sides, 365km each way. We have to make new design for about 66 bridges across the entire length. So, it’s a consultant that will do that design that was approved today.”
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the Council approved a contract of N318 million for engagement of Lead Consultants for the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He stated that the interim management of the NDDC would collaborate with the lead consultant, who will share the audit into nine lots and hire nine forensic auditors to check the books of the Commission.