States resume testing, demand funds as Omicron variant spreads to 23 countries
State governments in the country have said they will resume and increase mass testing for COVID-19 following the detection of the Omicron variant of the virus in the country.
Vondigest.com reports that top government officials in states including Cross River, Benue, Delta and Akwa Ibom, who disclosed this in separate interviews with The PUNCH, however, described funding as a major obstacle to community testing.
They sought the assistance of the Federal Government on funding of community testing, particularly running of molecular laboratories.
This online platform understands that states made the demand as the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the new variant had spread to 23 countries.
It is gathered that on Sunday, Canada detected the Omicron variant in two travellers, who recently visited Nigeria.On Tuesday, the North American included Nigeria, Egypt and Malawi in its travel ban list.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday announced the discovery of cases of the Omicron variant in three persons with travel history to South Africa.
It said contact tracing on the cases had started, adding that the affected persons were in isolation.
But virologists expressed fear that the strain was already circulating in the country but could not be detected because most states had stopped community testing.
On Thursday, Cross River State said it had begun community testing in the wake of the discovery of the Omicron variant.The state Commissioner for Health Dr Betta Edu, disclosed this to one of PUNCH correspondent in Calabar.
She stated, “We have already resumed community sample collection and massive vaccination. However, vaccine hesitancy and high cost of running molecular laboratories have been part of our challenges.”
She added that the state had already requested the Federal Government’s assistance in that regard.
Also, the Benue State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Professor Joseph Ngbea, said that the state had stepped up the testing rate.
The commissioner, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the phone, said that the state action committee on COVID 19 had evolved a new strategy to test people following the discovery of the new variant.