The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has been accused of embarking on selective COVID-19 test in the country.
So far, most of those that had been examined by the agency are highly-placed Nigerians especially public office holders, who are trying to safeguard their lives by knowing their statuses.
The situation has left many persons enraged and lambasting the NCDC for neglecting ordinary citizens for the high and mighty in the society.
SaharaReporters had earlier published a report on how the agency, through deliberate decision not to test ordinary citizens, had resulted in the low cases of confirmed infections in the country.
Nigeria currently has 184 confirmed Coronavirus cases and two recorded deaths but experts say the figure does not reflect the reality on the ground as the bulk of those tested for the virus are top Nigerians with connections and not the ordinary people in the country, who have been infected and roaming about freely without any means of testing.
Though NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, claims that the agency does not turn away people, who request testing, events of recent days have proved him wrong especially after individuals and groups started raising concern over this situation.
For instance, Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, was tested multiple times for the virus, which eventually came out positive.
His staff and other persons in Aso Villa were also tested several times — three of them returned positive.
Also, musician, David Adeleke popularly known as Davido, announced that he had his test done twice; while his fiancée, Chioma, son and 30-man crew also got tested multiple times.
According to experts, the kits used to test these individuals multiple times could have been extended to other less prominent Nigerians, who badly crave being examined especially after developing symptoms of the virus.
To further highlight this selective practice by the NCDC, 15 persons, who showed symptoms of the virus in Akwa Ibom, were not tested despite repeated calls to the agency.
A man, who shared their story on Twitter, said several more persons are feared to have been infected in the city.
He said, “At least three people who left the state on 18-20 March have tested positive in the US.
“Some primary contacts are ill but no tests. NCDC please help.
“Since I tweeted the first information, four persons who were at the same event as the people who tested positive have reached out. They have symptoms, fever, pains and coughs. All in Akwa Ibom. They’re unable to get tests done.”
After intense outcry, the NCDC finally tested the persons and at least five results came out positive.
While many Nigerians have condemned the act of the NCDC for not paying attention to ordinary citizens, the agency said that it was following the right process.
In a tweet, the NCDC said, “Those that can be tested are returning travellers with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contacts of confirmed cases with these symptoms and those with fever and respiratory symptoms in areas of moderate-high prevalence.”
However, as a result of this disturbing situation and abysmal way the Nigerian Government was handling the Coronavirus Outbreak, Western diplomats have warned that the number of infections could witness a significant rise in the coming weeks.
According to the diplomatic community, infections could rise to more than 10,000 in the coming weeks as there are at least 5,000 persons, who had come in contact with infected persons in Nigeria already on the loose.
To confirm this, the NCDC on Monday said it was searching for 6,000 persons, who have had close contact with Coronavirus cases.
Already, countries like France, Israel, Germany and United States have started evacuating citizens out from Nigeria as fear rises of an impending explosion of the pandemic over government’s failure to properly tackle the outbreak.
The World Health Organisation has warned that without mass testing of people suspected of having the virus, there could be a bigger crisis underway.
The global body said, “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.”
To help Nigeria and other African countries battling the virus to improve testing capabilities, Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, donated medical supplies recently.
Also, prominent Nigerians and organisations have donated huge sums to support the fight against Coronavirus.
However, despite these commendable and vital interventions, nothing significant has changed as many ordinary citizens, who need the test are ignored for high-placed persons in the society.