LAGOS, Nigeria, July 26, 2020/ — The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi has reiterated that the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits for COVID-19 testing in Lagos remains illegal until the State can validate that the kits actually work.
Abayomi stated this at a news briefing on COVID-19Lagos Response, explaining that RDT kits have a very high risk of giving false positive or negative results which could be traumatising for citizens.
“In the event that a false-positive result is given, a potentially negative person will be subjected to trauma, isolation and treatment like a positive patient. And in the event that a false negative is given, a potentially positive person is allowed to continue to roam freely in the community regardless of his positive status and as a result, the use of RDT kits is illegal until Lagos State can validate RDT kits that actually work”, he insisted.
The Commissioner explained that the State Government had considered the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits as part of the strategies to expand its testing capacity but noted, however, that none of the RDT kits submitted for validation passed the required test.
“In order to expand our testing capacity, we considered the use of RDT Kits and to facilitate the quick validation of the RDT Kits and reduce the barrier of entry for proposed manufacturers and suppliers of RDT Kits, Mr. Governor paid the validation fees for the RDT kits. However, upon review of several RDT kits that were submitted for validation, we can report that none of the RDT kits passed the validation exercise”, Abayomi disclosed.
While noting that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not declared any RDT kit useful for public use, Abayomi stated that it is also illegal for private health facilities to test or manage COVID-19 cases without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities.
“It has come to our attention that several laboratories and health facilities are testing and managing COVID patients without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities. Two laboratories were sealed as a result of this. We will continue to closely monitor all facilities that partake in these illegal activities and endanger the lives of all residents of Lagos State and instigate punitive measures to ensure they desist from such activities”, the Commissioner said.
Disclosing that only seven private laboratories were already accredited by the State government, he maintained that the second phase of accreditation and validation of laboratories will be conducted when the demand arises.
Abayomi added that the State Government has also only accredited three private facilities and is currently in the process of accrediting more, including general practitioners and small clinics, that are interested in partaking in the soon to be launched community-based and home-based care program.
“It is important to reiterate that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency and the Lagos State Government has adopted a central planning approach to managing its response”, he stated.
Assuring that plans are in top gear by the State government to scale up sample collection at the 20 LGAs to include the 37 LCDAs in order to improve the efficiency of sample collection in the community, Prof. Abayomi disclosed that residents will have access to free oxygen therapy at some of the centres, if required, while arrangements will be made to transfer such a person to a COVID-19 Centre.
Abayomi hinted that the State government will in the next couple days transition to the next phase of the COVID-19 response, which he referred to as the community-based care.
“Under the community-based care arrangement, we provide the opportunity for mild-to-moderate cases being managed and isolated at home in situations where this is allowed. However, our critical-to-severe cases will be continually managed in our COVID-19 isolation centres, where they will have the opportunity of the best treatment available”, the Commissioner assured.
Stating that a date for the commencement of home-based care will be formally announced soon, Abayomi observed that vulnerable, elderly and severe-to-critically ill patients will be managed at the isolation centres to ensure that they receive the best possible care available.
Giving epidemiology statistics on COVID-19 cases in Lagos State, the Commissioner said that over 56,276 COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far while the total number of positive cases stands at 13,543, pointing out that of the 2,476 COVID-19 patients admitted so far, 2,075 have been discharged to reunite with society after recovery.
Abayomi added that no fewer than 9,066 confirmed COVID-19 cases monitored in the communities by the COVID-19Lagos response teams have either recovered or are positively responding to treatments, noting that 192 COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded in Lagos.
He disclosed that Eti-Osa Local Government has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Kosofe, Ikeja and Oshodi accounting for 60% of the total COVID-19 cases in Lagos State.
Commenting on the COVID-19Lagos community engagement, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, emphasised the need for citizens to wear face masks correctly, especially in public places to curtail the spread of the virus.
Omotoso reaffirmed the State government’s commitment to securing the lives of citizens, disclosing that necessary precautions and guidelines stipulated by professionals will be taken before schools and religious centres reopen while the government will not take any risks with public health issues.
“Some of the reports we are getting that people do not want to wear face masks are not too good. What we are dealing with is a very dangerous enemy that has no remedy anywhere in the world. Humanity is just trying to curtail this terrible situation”, Omotoso said.
He maintained that the proper use of face marks will reduce the possibility of an infection and urged citizens to take responsibility for proper use of face masks, saying they do not need to wait for enforcement before adhering to directives on the use of face masks.
“I assure you that schools and religious institutions will be opened as soon as the go-ahead is given. We have to wait for the professionals so that we do not put ourselves in trouble. The State remains committed to securing lives and property of Lagosians”, he said.