By Obio Monday
Dr Betta  Edu
(Grassroot Reporters)
The Cross River State government says it has deployed rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits for massive screening of persons at border communities and “areas of interest” in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta  Edu stated this in a press briefing on Monday, June 22 to give an update on the effort of the state’s Covid-19 Response Task Force in containing the virus.
This is against the federal government’s warning on the use of RDTs in the country.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) had in March this year warned against the use of RDTs in the country. The only method of testing approved in the country is the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the Genexpert machines.
The NCDC had said in a tweet: 
“Remember, rapid test kits can give false results.
“We continue to scale up testing. Every state has been provided with supplies for sample collection”.

The centre added that:
“Both NAFDAC and the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria are working with several companies to evaluate tests kits. All new PCR kits will undergo validation. We will also be guided by approved technology from WHO,” the agency had assured the nation”.

On its part, the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) boss, Dr Tosan Erhabor said that so far no rapid diagnostic test kit has met the standard certification for use in testing for Covid-19 or any infectious disease control in Nigeria. 

However, on Monday, Dr Edu said at the press briefing:
“The state Government has commenced massive screening for persons at border communities and areas of interest using the antigen RDT method that has 100% specificity and 95% sensitivity. Furthermore, we will commence training for Head teachers and principals of schools working with the Ministry of Education to prepare them for school resumption which might happen anytime soon”.

She lamented the failure of the NCDC to accredit testing centres in the state.
“Failure of NCDC to respond to our request for testing site at Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital and UCTH despite the provision by the Cross River State of a PCR machine and Gene-Xpert machines in at least two facilities in Calabar. 

“The travel distance, risks, delays at the testing center sometimes due to lack of reagents, extraction kits, etc and costs involved may have possible effects on waiting time of the various samples which eventually gets tested. We continue to work and improve on all these fronts, provide vehicles for the teams to move around easily and carry out their duties”.


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