By Joseph Erunke
THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has denied reports in the social media that its officials were turning back people seeking to undergo a test for coronavirus test.
This was as the federal government warned people against spreading false rumours in the social media on the disease.
The reported had alleged that the centre was engaging in selective testing of people, describing the alleged trend “dangerous.”
“It means a lot of people might have been infected already but for lack of testing they are moving about infecting others,” the report had claimed.
The NCNC, reacting to it, asked Nigerians not only to disregard the information but also confirm information from it before going public even as it said it had dealt with the issue.
“This has been put out by NCDC, FMOH severally via Twitter, TV/radio interviews, press briefing, websites, guidelines, protocols.
“We cannot respond to every rant on social media,” NNDC spoke through the media aide to its DG, Emeka Oguanuo.
Also speaking, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, warned Nigerians against spreading falsehood on social media.
“Nigerians must not abuse social media and engage in spreading misinformation and rumours.
“The Nigeria Center for Disease Control will continue to provide updates and will initiate measures to curtail the spread,” he said.
The minister added:”Discountenance the report. It’s mischief clothed in ignorance.”
He added:”The NCDC expectedly has some challenges in terms of capacity to cope with the number of incoming calls.
“The lines are being expanded. People should not just go to NCDC and expect to be tested for COVID-19. Samples are usually taken from those that fit into case definition and coming from high burden countries.
” Such people are usually referred and the samples are taken from designated points. The PCR testing machines are limited to 5 centres present in the country but efforts are being made to set up in various parts of the country.
“The reagents are also limited. People need to understand all these limitations,” he said.
The said report with the caption, “NCDC and the Federal Government should deny this otherwise we are doomed,” written by an anonymous person had read: “To tell you the truth, NCDC can’t do anything for you because they are not ready.
“All this PR they are doing they are assuming people will not try that’s why. Yesterday 25/03)2020 I and a colleague of mine decided we want to be sure of our status before going into #selfisolation.
“So we went through the following steps We called the toll free line and after all the normal recorded stories, when we chose to speak to an agent they end the call.
“We went to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, they told us they don’t do testing there, that the hospital is only an isolation centre. They refer us back to NCDC office in town, told us that’s where the testing lab is.
“We drove to NCDC office at Jabi. There are two NCDC offices there in close proximity. The first officer told us they don’t do testing but they directed us to the second office saying that’s where testing is handled.
” The second office too absolved themselves of that responsibility and directed us to NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa.
“We visited the NCDC NRL. On getting there, the security at the gate informed us that a lot of people were there too earlier in the day and were turned away. That they don’t do testing for individuals unless your state took your sample and submit to them.
” They refer us to a circular posted at the gate and told us to contact the FCT Epidemiology team lead on COVID-19.
“When I called him I introduced myself by name and then asked him if he’s the FCT team lead on this issue. He answered yes. I then asked him how do I go about getting tested.
He asked who are you? Who gave you my number? I told him I’m an Abuja resident and his number is on a circular at the NCDC office. He told us he doesn’t know. He said we should go to NCDC. I told him but they referred us to you. He was silent. I then asked him to advise us. He told us to go to “National Health Disease Control” which doesn’t exist.
I will send a copy of the circular to this forum.
“Obviously they are doing selective testing which is dangerous.
It means a lot of people might have been infected already but for lack of testing, they are moving about infecting others.
“While the information from the official channels are saying people are not coming forth, the truth is that people are going but are been turned away.
An I know because I was turned away the first hand.
“It also tells you that either the NCDC are lying to us or they are not coordinated at all. How will you explain three branches of the office each denying responsibility and pointing us to the next instead of just explaining to us the laid down procedures by the NCDC.”