News Investigators/ The Vice-Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Taofeeq Ibrahim has called on the Federal and State Governments to invest on massive testing for coronavirus to avoid a serious outbreak in the country.
Mr. Ibrahim, a medical Practitioner and epidemiology professor, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Ilorin that it was imperative to test as many people as possible because the outbreak could be exponential.
The vice-chancellor said the massive testing would also help to project ahead to avoid long time lockdown in the country and possible ‘worst-case-scenario’.
According to him, we have taken too much time right now still looking at the current strategies like the lockdown that we are considering.
”We should have started thinking of how long we are going to be in lockdown and what are we going to do because if people are hungry, I foresee a situation where people will defy all laws and orders and push themselves out of their houses unto the street.
”What we have to think of now is what strategy can we use to curtail the spread of infection, which is by conducting test massively.
”We need to work with data and not assumptions. Is it that the test kits are not available or that we don’t have sufficient fund to procure the test kits or what is it that we are lacking.
”The success of this is that we should be able to test in large scale. Can the government afford 100 per cent testing or 75 per cent or 50 per cent of the population.
”This is very key because the earlier we are able to know those that are infected the better, and those that are not infected can be readily segregated.
”Those that are not at high risk should be able to go on with business and those that are at high risk can be restricted,” Ibrahim said.
The VC said more emphasis was now more on food and money distribution, but should rather be on how to prevent the spread, which could be catastrophic.
According to him, we are putting a lot of emphasis on giving to people.
”Now, people think that there is no problem not knowing that it is because many people have not been tested yet.
”By the time the outbreak will start, it will be exponential.
”So, what is more important now is to invest in testing otherwise people that we are giving money and food to now will just be as if we are preparing them for their death by the time the escalation comes up,” he said.
The vice chancellor stressed the need for the government to have a think tank on the consequences of having a long time lockdown across the country.
”We need a good think tank to think ahead and advise the government on what could be the consequences of lockdown beyond 4, 8 or 10 weeks and how to handle the situation.
”Those are the first questions to be answered because not preparing for that could be catastrophic.
”Once we are able to access that we can push lockdown before a certain time, then we have to review our strategy on who should be further lockdown, and how do we open up gradually.
”The core principle to be able to do that is testing, we need to invest heavily on testing kits.
”We can delay it to be in batches, once we are able to test as many people as possible, we shall know those to be isolated.
“Let us identify how much it will cost to do that, because, if we don’t invest now in testing, by the time the pandemic is so huge in the country, we might not be able to cope,” he said.
NAN reports that as at 9:30 p.m on Thursday, Nigeria has 288 COVID-19 cases, 51 recoveries and seven deaths. (NAN)