The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says it remains focused on the fight against  the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.

On Monday in Abuja, the agency announced that it would increase testing for the virus across the country as a strategy to succeed.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, gave the re-assurance  at the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“I will like to remind everyone that we remain focused on our target which is to increase testing across the country; during a pandemic, the risk of spread is in those towns where the population density is highest.

We are all aware of the population density in Kano. The high number of cases we are now seeing in Kano is really not a surprise,” he said.

Since reporting its index case about two weeks ago, Kano has been the centre of controversies ranging from the rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases to the sudden halt of its only testing centre.

Kano, which currently stands as the third hardest-hit state in Nigeria has so far reported 77 cases out of the 1,273 cases of the infection in Nigeria,” he said.

49 new cases have been confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed two deaths and 49 new COVID-19 cases.

NCDC disclosed the news in a series of tweets on Saturday.

A breakdown of the cases showed that 23 were recorded in Lagos, 12 in the federal capital territory (FCT), 10 in Kano, two in Ogun and one each in Oyo and Ekiti states.

With this update, Nigeria has recorded a total of 542 COVID-19 cases. The number of deaths also increased from 17 to 19, just as the number of recoveries has risen to 166 patients.

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu on Monday disclosed that four new molecular diagnostic laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be activated this week.

He made this known at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja. He stated that the facilities will boost local testing capacity.

Nigeria currently has nine molecular diagnostic laboratories to test for COVID-19. They are; NCDC National Reference Laboratory in Abuja, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research in Lagos, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), and Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State.

Others include; African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) in Osun State, University College Hospital, Ibadan; Virology Laboratory of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki; the Bio-Security Centre in Lagos State and Defense Laboratory in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“The Presidential directive was to enable case finding, contact tracing and bringing in cases into hospitals. To improve on the efficiency of this process we have agreed on certain targets for all the states actively involved in it,” Ihekweazu explained.

The finance minister, Zainab Ahmed announced that the federal government will release N6.5 billion to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) .

“The fund is an intervention to assist the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria,” she said .

She revealed this during a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

Ahmed, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other executive officials met with the lawmakers to discuss the planned budget review as well as the effect of the pandemic and recent oil price crash on the nation’s economy.

The meeting was held about a week after the Senate resolved that the review of the 2020 budget was inevitable.

The resolution was sequel to the receipt and deliberation of the interim report of the Senate joint committee on finance, appropriations, national planning and petroleum resources (upstream).

During her presentation, the minister said the federal government had made provisions for health sector interventions by introducing import duty waivers for essential input for pharmaceutical firms; tax waivers on new equipment; and deferment of tax to increase production.

She disclosed that the federal government would be releasing N6.5 billion in two tranches (N1.5 billion and N5 billion) to the NCDC as intervention to assist in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 disease in Nigeria.

The minister also made known that the Lagos State Government would receive financial support from the federal government to the tune of N10 billion to combat Coronavirus spread in the state.

Nigeria had received a grant of $18.2 million from Japan for strengthening seven NCDC centers across the country and N1 billion would be released by the government to pharmaceutical firms in the country, she added.

The National Centre for Disease Control on Monday announced in its latest report that more people have died from Lassa fever.

The new update released by the NCDC centre revealed said there were 482 suspected cases during the week under review, with 109 confirmed cases recorded from 43 council areas in 19 states.

The NCDC said, “Four new health-care workers were affected in Ondo, Delta and Kaduna states in the reporting week. The National Lassa fever multi-partner, multi-sectoral emergency operation centres continue to coordinate the response activities at all levels.”

The centre added that as part of the measures to contain the spread of the disease, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary Public Health Emergency Operation Centers have been activated in affected states. It said it had also disseminated safe burial guidelines in the areas and established the Lassa fever laboratory at the Federal Medical Centre Owo.

Last week, the centre said 18 people were killed by Lassa fever, bringing the total deaths recorded to 103 this year.

On coronavirus, it said a Coronavirus Preparedness Group had been established by the NCDC.

It stated, “The provision of specialised care is a critical component of COVID-19 (coronavirus) response activities. In the last one month, the NCDC has conducted further assessments in existing infectious disease treatment centres. This assessment has focused on identifying gaps and developing plans to rapidly ensure that we are prepared to manage all cases of COVID-19, regardless of the severity.”

The Federal Capital Territory Administration has organized a refresher course for health workers in the six area councils on prevention and management of Lassa fever, coronavirus and other diseases.

 The health workers were trained on identification and reporting of susceptible cases.

 The Acting Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat, Musa Abdulraheem, noted that the workers were at the risk of contracting diseases.

 Abdulraheem, who was represented by the Director, Special Duties in the secretariat, Dr Matthew Ashikeni, reiterated the commitment of the administration to universal health coverage.

 He said, “Building the capacity and updating health-care workers on the importance of disease surveillance, notification, efficient and prompt management of cases is key in controlling these diseases. Sensitization and awareness creation of the communities on these diseases is also crucial if we must achieve disease control and eradication, in order to maintain a healthy society free of infirmity.”