Nigeria: Lagos Health Commissioner condemns use of RDTs for COVID-19 test

by MCR Correspondent
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The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, has condemned and reiterated that the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits for COVID-19 testing in Lagos, stating that it is illegal until results can validate its accuracy.

Abayomi stated this at a news briefing on COVID-19 Lagos Response where he explained that RDT kits have a very high risk of giving false positive or negative results which could be traumatising for citizens.

He said, “In the event that a false-positive result is given, a potentially negative person will be subjected to trauma, isolation and treatment like a positive patient.”

“And in the event that a false negative is given, a potentially positive person is allowed to continue to roam freely in the community regardless of his positive status and as a result, the use of RDT kits is illegal until Lagos State can validate RDT kits that actually work,” he insisted.

The Commissioner explained that the State Government had considered the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) Kits as part of the strategies to expand its testing capacity but noted, however, that none of the RDT kits submitted for validation passed the required test.

“In order to expand our testing capacity, we considered the use of RDT Kits and to facilitate the quick validation of the RDT Kits and reduce the barrier of entry for proposed manufacturers and suppliers of RDT Kits,” he said.

“Mr. Governor paid the validation fees for the RDT kits. However, upon review of several RDT kits that were submitted for validation, we can report that none of the RDT kits passed the validation exercise”, Abayomi disclosed.

While noting that the World Health Organisation has not declared any RDT kit useful for public use, Abayomi stated that it is also illegal for private health facilities to test or manage COVID-19 cases without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities.

“It has come to our attention that several laboratories and health facilities are testing and managing COVID patients without proper accreditation and validation by the regulatory authorities.

“Two laboratories were sealed as a result of this,” he said.

We will continue to closely monitor all facilities that partake in these illegal activities and endanger the lives of all residents of Lagos State and instigate punitive measures to ensure they desist from such activities.”, the Commissioner added.

Disclosing that only seven private laboratories were already accredited by the State government, he maintained that the second phase of accreditation and validation of laboratories would be conducted when the demand arises.

Abayomi added that the State Government has also only accredited three private facilities and is currently in the process of accrediting more, including general practitioners and small clinics that are interested in partaking in the community-based and home-based care program which will be launched soon.

“It is important to reiterate that the COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency and the Lagos State Government has adopted a central planning approach to managing its response”, he stated.

He added that “In the event that a false-positive result is given, a potentially negative person will be subjected to trauma, isolation and treatment like a positive patient.”

He assured that plans are in top gear by the State government to scale up sample collection at the 20 LGAs to include the 37 LCDAs in order to improve the efficiency of sample collection in the community

Prof. Abayomi disclosed that residents will have access to free oxygen therapy at some of the centres, if required, while arrangements will be made to transfer such a person to a COVID-19 Centre.

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