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NCDC Weekly Epidemiological Report: Issue: Volume 12 No. 1: 4th – 10th January 2021

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Govt. Nigeria
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Optimising SARS-CoV-2 Testing Capacity: NCDC Pilots Use of SARS-CoV-2 RDT in Nigeria

Since the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was reported in Nigeria in February 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has continued to lead public health response activities. With the evolution of the pandemic and scientific guidance for response activities, NCDC has continued to introduce diverse response measures. One critical priority for the response, is scale up of access to testing.

As part of measures to scale up access to testing, NCDC has worked with States and partners to establish walk-in sites for sample collection, increase communications around testing and activate at least one testing laboratory in every state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Timely access to testing is critical for early diagnosis, effective case management and prompt tracing of likely contacts thereby limiting spread of the virus.

A major challenge in the COVID-19 response is the long turnaround time for testing, using the molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. The World Health Organisation has recently granted emergency use authorisation for Rapid Diagnostic Test (Ag-RDTs) kits, produced by Abott and SD-Biosensor.

In line with the above, NCDC carried out a national validation of these test kits and has now approved its inclusion in the country’s COVID-19 testing strategy. The use of these approved Ag-RDTs is limited to congregate settings such as camps, workplace, health facilities to triage patients etc. Given the limitations of these Ag-RDTs, molecular PCR remains the gold standard for testing.

The NCDC has begun a pilot use of the approved Ag-RDTs in five selected health facilities in FCT, Nigeria. The overall goal is to assess the cost effectiveness of implementing antigen detecting SARS-CoV-2 rapid diagnostic tests and use lessons learnt to scale-up to other health facilities across Nigeria. The pilot involved training of healthcare workers on detection, sample collection, packaging, transportation, testing and data collection.

The proper use of Ag-RDTs is expected to improve the national testing capacity by supporting the existing network of COVID-testing laboratories. We urge states and other public and private institutions to leverage on this plan, by ensuring appropriate use in the right settings. More information on the use of Ag-RDTs can be found here..

Summary of Incidents

  1. Information for this disease was retrieved from the Technical Working Group and Situation Reports

  2. Case Fatality Rate (CFR) for this disease is reported for confirmed cases only

  3. Information for this disease was retrieved from IDSR 002 data

  4. CFR for this disease is reported for total cases i.e. suspected + confirmed

  5. Information for sentinel influenza was retrieved from the laboratory