COVID-19: No Need For Community Testing, Says FG

The Federal Government yesterday said no room for massive community testing for coronavirus in Nigeria.

The national coordinator of the Presidential Taskforce Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, said this in Abuja yesterday at the 10th joint national briefing of the committee.

Aliyu ruled out massive community testing for COVID-19 in the country, stating that it would be “inefficient and expensive.”

According to him, it is better to test 100 persons and record 10 possible positive cases than test 1,000 and record 10 possible positive cases.

“Testing was not recommended in the absence of symptoms because COVID-19 might not show during incubation time.

“What we should be doing is improving efficiency of the targeting of the tests. We also do not recommend doing the test in the absence of symptoms,” Aliyu said.

He urged Muslims across the country to continue to abide by the restriction order and other measures put in place by the government during the coming Ramadan.

He further stated that physical distancing is a more apt, appropriate and much needed to be maintaining as much as possible at this time.

On the coming Ramadan fasting and fears by Muslims in view of the lockdown, now extended by additional 14 days in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, Aliyu said people have to be protected and be alive to witness this year’s Ramadan and subsequent ones.

“This is a challenging period for all of us. We are not in normal situation and we can see the Saudi Arabia suspending the lesser hajj (Umrah). We just have to make adjustments and adapt. This is an appeal to the Ulamas and religious leaders to spread this message.

“We are in a challenging time and we have to be around for the next Ramadan and that is why we have to protect ourselves now. The Federal Government will continue to provide the palliatives that were discussed earlier on to ease the effect of the difficult time we are in. Those restriction measures are clearly to protect us and it would definitely not be with us forever so we should abide by them for the main time,” Aliyu said.

He also warned against stigmatising persons who tested positive for COVID-19, saying this would drive them and others underground and could swell the number of affected persons.

He said: “Repeated breaches of confidentiality, whether it is by putting out the names of those that are positive in the public sphere or providing a detailed description of these persons to enable them to be identified publicly does not help the pandemic at all, if anything, it drives people underground and makes it difficult for us to be able to test people.

“It creates fear in society, it creates stigma and overall, it destroys what we are trying to do, which is trying to get on top of the pandemic. I must remind all of us that this is a virus that does not discriminate: it could be your neighbour, tomorrow it may be you. It does not discriminate between a rich man and a poor man. If we don’t want to be treated unkindly, we should not treat others same way.

“So, my plea to all of us, including our leaders, is to respect the privacy of those that have been diagnosed with this disease. If there’s any need to break the privacy for public health purposes, it will be done by the recognised authorities.”

About the Author: Success Kafoi

Success Kafoi is a technology oriented Nigerian Journalist, with penchant in ICT development and technology innovation. You can reach him on success@naijaaffairs.com

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