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17 months after the first case, only 1% of Nigerians have been tested for COVID-19

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FOR a country with more than 200 million people, only approximately two million citizens, representing one per cent of the population, have been tested for COVID-19, figures from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) have revealed.

Nigeria’s total COVID-19 cases stood at 168,110 as at June 8, 2021. There have been over 1,000 deaths and 1,580 active cases since the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) Boss Mustapha spoke on the need for Nigerians to get tested on October 9, 2020.

In Africa, Nigeria comes as the eighth country with the most COVID-19 cases and as of July 08, data from Worldometer showed that exactly 2.332 million Nigerians had been tested for coronavirus.


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Other countries have fared better. South Africa has tested 23 per cent of its population, while Egypt has tested three per cent. Also, Kenya has tested three per cent whereas Ethiopia has tested two per cent of its population, The ICIR’s calculations show.

In Africa, Nigeria ranks 45th in carrying out COVID-19 tests in proportion to population
In Africa, Nigeria ranks 45th in carrying out COVID-19 tests in proportion to population

Christine Olanrewaju and Adams Monica sell food at an outdoor food shop in Abuja. They told this reporter that they had not yet been tested for COVID-19.

While both women said they did not believe in the existence of the virus, Monica said she would get tested if she were to fall sick and  admitted to a hospital for treatment.

When asked whether she would agree to be tested for records’ sake, regardless of being ill or showing any symptoms, Olanrewaju said she still would not want to get tested.

“Just like HIV, it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I was tested for it. I can’t just prepare and go,” she said.

This reporter also spoke to a pharmacist, who decided to not give out her name. She said she had not been tested for COVID-19 and did not see a reason to do so when she was not sick.

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She said that tests were initially carried out on the elite in the country and they became costly to acquire thereafter. Her claim, however, is half-truth as many Nigerians have had access to vaccine.

The pharmacist said she observed getting tested for COVID-19 was mostly necessary for people who needed to travel out of the country.

For her own situation, however, she said, “I have not seen any necessity.”

When asked about people who were carriers but asymptomatic, she replied, “how many of them can afford a test that can cost up to N50,000?”

A security officer at a house in Wuse Zone 2 in Abuja Chagba Solomon said he got tested for COVID-19 at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada and it was free of charge.

Another pharmacist Samuel Abel said it was proper for asymptomatic people to get tested due to the nature of the disease.

He went on to say that most people would have received the COVID-19 test if it was “brought to them in the streets and they do not have to go to testing centres.”

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The NCDC lists 84 government-run laboratories that people can go to for COVID-19 tests, and 54 fee-paying, private laboratories in Nigeria.

A lab scientist at the Federal Medical Center, Abuja, Miriam Williams confirmed that there was a drop in the testing rate, as the coronavirus cases reduced.

She said, “Unlike the period of the outbreak, the rate at which people got tested dropped during the second wave.”

On the reality of COVID-19, Williams said that even at the moment, she did see people doubt the existence of the virus as she had seen patients test positive.

Nigeria comes 45th in Africa and 196th in the world in terms of countries that have run COVID-19 tests on their citizens in proportion to their population.

The country recorded its first COVID-19 infection on February 27, 2020. Seventeen months later, the country has tested only one per cent of its population for the virus.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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