The College of Nigerian Pathologists has in a statement commended the federal and state governments for the various ways they have intervened in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, but has asked for more support and motivation for frontline workers engaged in the fight to curb the spread of the global pandemic through the provision of all necessary working materials and appropriate incentives.
“The College is reminding all governments of the need to fully support and motivate those in the frontline.
“…This is particularly important because, while educational institutions, markets, recreation areas, beaches, and religious places can close and communities can be locked down, hospitals must remain open and health care personnel must remain at work.
“The College of Nigerian Pathologists notes with concern the inadequacy of testing centres across the country and urges governments to substantially decentralize the testing centres as a strategy to accelerate the control of the outbreak.
“We do not see any reason why our tertiary health care centres, where competent pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are situated, cannot carry out COVID-19 tests.
“We urge the Federal and State governments to deploy a portion of the COVID-19 budget to bridge whatever deficiencies exist in our tertiary diagnostic laboratories.”
The College said it was aware of the advertisement of a few rapid serological test kits being touted for the diagnosis of COVID-19, but warned that many of such kits are antibody-based and may not be appropriate for accurate diagnosis:
“They are not validated, hence their sensitivity and specificity are unknown.
“While we caution against using these test kits, we recommend that an in-country evaluation could be done for some that are said to be antigen-based.
“We are of the view that anything that can positively contribute to the control of the pandemic should be embraced.
“While we recommend that at this critical moment, diagnostic utility should employ the NCDC recommended Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), we call for a more innovative and quicker diagnostic approach.”
The College also expressed concern over a possible abuse of Chloroquine arising from its purported usefulness in treating COVID-19 infection:
“Although some evidence is emerging about its efficacy, we caution against inappropriate use of Chloroquine due to its damaging effect to the eye and interference with the functioning of the heart.
“Chloroquine should, therefore, only be used under the guidance of certified medical personnel in the care of people with COVID-19 infection.
“We condemn the hiking of the cost of Chloroquine, face masks, hand gloves, and sanitizer, which are essential for protection and prevention of the population, by unpatriotic vendors and dealers.
“We also caution against the spread of fake and unverified news.
“Members of the public should consult WHO, CDC, NCDC and other authoritative websites and sources for reliable information. Share only information you have personally verified; if you are in doubt do not share.”
It added that it was gladdening to note that more than 95% of infected persons are stable and urged Nigerians not to panic, over-react or get confused.
Amaka E. Nliam