Lagos spends N800m on 16,000 tests, says Commissioner

The Lagos State government has spent about N800million on COVID-19 tests, Commissioner for Health Prof. Akin Abayomi said on Thursday.

According to him, 16,000 tests have so far been conducted.

Prof. Abayomi, who spoke at a news conference, said each COVID-19 test cost between N40,000-N50,000 and that 16,000 tests carried out so far were paid for by the government since it is done for free for residents and others who come in.

Abayomi said: “We have so far performed 16,000 COVID-19 tests in Lagos, which is much higher than anywhere else in Nigeria. We are planning to test up to about 1000 people per day very soon, in the next month or two we are going to be ramping up our capacity to test.

“For now the government is providing testing free of charge and the government pays about N40,000 to N50,000 per test.

“But as we ramp up our testing we are going to try and use some means of subsidy for the test, either through insurance or through some contributions from donors or from development partners to help us to subsidize the test.

“For now the state government is providing COVID-19 testing free of charge and all citizens who needs to be tested for covid-19 either because they are not feeling well or had a close contact can get it done free of charge at any of our covid-19 testing sites on the four laboratories”.

Abayomi said the state is about to roll out trial on hydroxychloroquine, adding that with the solidarity trial the state is participating in two months from now, it should get information on the drug either as preventive or cure.

According to him, the government had identified the centres to roll out the hydroxy Chloroquine trials and looking into various dietary supplements that can boost or improve the immune system to resist the virus.

The World Health Organization Country Representative, Fiona Braka, early this month said Nigeria was one of the 100 countries that indicated interest in the trial.

She said: “We do have the solidarity trial which is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, launched by WHO and partners.

“Over 1,200 patients have been randomized from the first five countries to evaluate the safety and efficacy of full drug and drug combinations.”

Healthcare workers in Britain and Thailand have already started taking part in a trial.

The commissioner also said Lagos is seeing a rise in its COVID 19 confirmed cases due to the increase in its testing capacity.

He also stated that government is looking at integrating the concept of home based care of COVID 19 advising Lagosians to present themselves for test, and guide against stigmatisation of COVID 19 patients.

He urged the people to always wear nose masks in the public, present themselves early for treatment, because most of the death recorded were cases that were brought in late.

Abayomi said though Lagos and Kano have the same demographic, Lagos was recording more cases of covid-19 because it was doing more testing than Kano.

According to him, while Lagos has four testing laboratories running for almost three months now and doing three shifts, Kano has just one laboratory which is yet to properly kick off because of some initial teething problems.

Moreover, he said, the government has decentralized sample collection centres as it now has about 20 sample collection sites across the state which has also increased its testing capacity.