Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, has warned Nigerians against false optimism following ‘COVID-19 free’ declarations by some state governments.
Ihekweazu said no state in the country can be declared Coronavirus free unless a vaccine was developed to treat the virus.
The NCDC boss made this known in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday.
He said, “Concerning some states declaring themselves COVID-19 free because they were discharging patients, I will like to say no single state in Nigeria is COVID-19 free, not one.
“No country in the world is COVID-19 free. Even New Zealand that is an island state is still having new cases after a period of not having any. We can’t separate ourselves from the rest of the country because we live in a context and viruses spread.
“That is why prevention is very important; if you can’t prevent, then you must detect. It is that detection that we call lab testing, and that is why we have to scale our lab test.
“We can only start talking about any state or community being disease-free when we have an effective tool to fight that disease. That will come when we have a vaccine. Until then, there is no easy way to say this. We have to keep pushing on these preventive measures and we have to develop our laboratory capacity to test.
“I think there are six or seven states in the country that do not have a testing facility yet; there are some that are in progress using the GeneXpert technology. By next week, we will be able to say that the country is covered.
“The challenge will now be about how to convey the samples from one part of the state to the other depending on how big the state is. We want to make sure we have testing capabilities in every state in Nigeria.”