Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has rated Indorama’s molecular laboratory in Port Harcourt third-best among Nigeria’s 67 Covid-19 sample testing centres. A survey by the disease control agency for week 40 rated 67 testing laboratories across the country according to their competence, equipment display, and efficiency in managing positive results.
NCDC’s latest report for Week 40 ending Sunday 11 October shows that Indorama molecular lab came third among the 67 molecular laboratories in the country, and placed Rivers State in the second position among the 36 states and FCT Abuja, with the highest sample testing.
The survey showed that out of 23,305 Covid-19 tests carried out by 70 laboratories across the country in Week 40, Indorama molecular lab (IML) did 1,666, which helped to identify positive cases and managing them successfully. The first two laboratories are NRL and Sahel labs.
The report further noted that the majority of the samples were from Lagos, Rivers and Katsina states, while Kebbi and Kogi states tested the least in the week under review.
In recent times, Rivers State has come first, second or third in the daily Covid-19 positive cases table released by NCDC, as a result of sustained sample testing across the state. As of Monday, 12 October, the State has had 2,661 confirmed cases of the virus, with 2,481 discharged and 59 deaths recorded, according to NCDC. The State has not recorded new deaths from the disease in recent weeks.
The health agency identified five major challenges militating against effective samples testing in Nigeria. They include: “samples from most of the states are not reaching the labs within 24 hours of sample collection, and there has been a reduction in the number of samples coming from the states in straight weeks (weeks 30-40),” the NCDC said. Other challenges are: “the laboratory turn-around time (TAT) still needs improvement; some labs do not submit their line-lists in a timely manner, and some do not submit at all; some labs have not sent their daily testing capacities to national,” the agency said.
It offered the following recommendations for improvement: “Labs should improve on their turn-around time and communicate their challenges which might be affecting their TAT to the appropriate quarters; and all States should have testing labs as this will reduce the time it takes for sample to reach the labs; “all testing labs should submit their line-list in a timely manner to National; and all labs to provide National with information on their daily testing capacities.”
In July this year, the NCDC had accredited the Indorama molecular lab which parades state-of-the-art medical equipment; saying the company was strategic partner in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. The lab was meant to ensure that over 7,000 workers in the expansive petrochemicals and fertilizer complex were tested regularly (every 10 days); and those found positive are managed properly to reduce the spread of the disease and loss of lives. At that time, the managing director of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (IEPL), Manish Mundra had appreciated the Rivers ministry of health and the NCDC for their guidance in actualizing the setting up of the molecular laboratory.