Wednesday, October 28

Nigeria Develops Testing Kit For COVID-I9

The Federal Govern­ment has announced the indigenous de­velopment and val­idation of RNA Swift, a test kit for the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for COVID-19, to acceler­ate the capacity to test people and help effectively manage the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

At a media conference on Thursday in Abuja, the Min­ister of Science and Technol­ogy, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said, “The RNA Swift has amazing precision for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and will be com­mercially available at a price that places it ahead of compet­itors in terms of sensitivity and affordability”.Passengers wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus observe social distancing, at the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos Nigeria, Thursday July 9, 2020. Nigeria officials resumed domestic flights on Wednesday following months of closure to curb the spread of coronavirus . (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)© ASSOCIATED PRESS Passengers wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus observe social distancing, at the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos Nigeria, Thursday July 9, 2020. Nigeria officials resumed domestic flights on Wednesday following months of closure to curb the spread of coronavirus . (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

According to Onu, the RNA Swift was borne out of the need in the agricultural sector to test Nigerian farm­ers and labourers.

He further disclosed that in the coming months, five mil­lion farmers would be tested with the RNA Swift kits from the first 10 million kits to be produced.

He described the develop­ment of the testing kit as “Ni­geria’s gift and contribution to help Africa and the world in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic”.

Onu confirmed the sup­port of the African Develop­ment Bank to the project.

According to him, “I want to confirm to you that the RNA Swift product team is in consultation with the African Development Bank for the funding of an Afri­can-wide testing programme for COVID-19 and the estab­lishment for RNA Swift pro­duction in Nigeria.”

He said the development of the test kit was as a re­sult of careful planning and strategic investments of the ministry’s departments and agencies.

He commended the Feder­al Ministry of Agriculture, Federal Ministry of Finance, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NAB­DA), Sheffield University, scientists, and the organised private sector for their collab­orative efforts in the develop­ment of the testing kits.

Earlier, the Minister of Ag­riculture, Alhaji Sabo Nano­no, said his ministry was working hard to ensure food security in the country by supporting the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

He said his ministry would continue to be in the forefront of the fight against the pandemic by ensuring that the newly developed test­ing kit was made available to test over five million farmers across the country.

The Acting DG of NAB­DA, Prof. Alex Ukpa, said the invention of the RNA Swift testing kit will improve test­ing and bring the power of large scale and precise test­ing closer to Nigerians.

He added that this ap­proach would enable Nigeria and Africans at large get the needed attention to survive the pandemic.

Fears As Over 400 Health Workers Test Positive For COVID-19

Meanwhile, there were strong indications on Thurs­day that the emergence of coronavirus in Nigeria is tak­ing a toll on the health sector as over 400 workers have test­ed positive for the virus.

Joy Josiah Biobelemoye, national chairman of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), revealed the trend in the sector at a ceremony held in Abuja to flag off the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to state councils of JOHESU.

He, however, assured that despite the spike in infec­tions, health workers would not relent in protecting the citizens.

He noted that the situa­tion on the ground called for drastic solutions, hence the decision of the union to take it upon itself to distribute PPE to her members.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, over 400 mem­bers of JOHESU have been infected by coronavirus, we also need to support our own members who are working and sacrificing their lives for the generality of Nigerians,” Biobelemoye stated.

Among PPEs to be distrib­uted across 38 state councils of the union are 50,000 pieces of face masks, 15, 200 pieces of sanitizers, 2000 pieces of disinfectants, and 1,200 pieces of hand wash.

Meanwhile, Aliyu Mo­hammed, Director, Human Resources, who represent­ed the permanent secre­tary, Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi, said the challenges that COVID-19 had thrown up in the health sector was becoming over­whelming, hence the Federal Government was apprecia­tive of any donations made by public spirited Nigerians towards curbing the pandem­ic.

He noted that for some unusual reasons Nigeria had been able to brace up to the challenges better than oth­er advanced countries with technological ingenuity.

He said: “The emergence of COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives and the health system in gener­al, such that even the devel­oped countries have been overwhelmed, talk less of Nigeria.

“The virus has affected the economy drastically, hence the government cannot meet all the challenges that have been thrown up; that is why we welcome such donations by the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria.

“We have many frontline health workers taking up these challenges on behalf of other Nigerians and the Fed­eral Government is always appreciative of these efforts; so, we crave your under­standing and more support to improve on our health care delivery in the country.”

Earlier, the general secre­tary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Emmanuel Ugboaja, said health workers deserved commendation for being the first set of people to raise awareness on COVID-19 and its preventive measures.

He said when many Ni­gerians saw health workers putting on face masks, they became aware of the serious­ness of the virus and the need to stay safe.

“Medical and health work­ers were the first set of people that produced face masks and other PPEs and started dis­tributing them to Nigerians,” he stated.

Source: dailyindependentnig.com

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