Home Health & Food NIMR shuts COVID-19 centre two years after outbreak

NIMR shuts COVID-19 centre two years after outbreak

by James Davies

Adebayo Folorunsho Francis

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says it has suspended the operation of its free drive-through testing centre for COVID-19.

The development is coming two days after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recorded 13 fresh infections in Lagos, Kaduna and Rivers State.

Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, Director-General of the NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, explained that the action was taken because Nigerians were no longer turning up for the COVID-19 test.

Salako disclosed that while the institute racked up sample testing of well over 46,000 individuals in the last two years, NIMR was losing money in its bid to sustain the free initiative.

“We folded up the free drive/walk-through centre because only a few people were coming to request COVID-19 testing. More so, we are also running out of funds to maintain free testing having tested over 46,000 individuals in the last two years,” he said.

Salako, however, warned Nigerians not to get carried away with the pseudo belief that COVID-19 has been eradicated from the country.

“I am not sure we are out of the woods yet. But we can say that we are on our way out. China is still battling with lockdown due to COVID-19. Remember that the pandemic started from there.

“We need to vaccinate the majority of Nigerians to achieve herd immunity that would see us out of the woods. And for a while, booster doses may be necessary to get us to that level,” he said.

The NIMR administrator also stressed that the country must continue to be on the lookout, using effective surveillance systems, to monitor the disease behaviour and pay particular attention to travellers.

Nigeria recorded its COVID-19 index case on February 27, 2020, despite earlier claims that the Federal Government had strengthened the surveillance at its airport.

The index case, an Italian businessman, was subsequently admitted and discharged after undergoing treatment in the isolation ward of Lagos Mainland Hospital in Yaba.

The incident raised serious concerns among Nigerians about the effectiveness of airport surveillance and the country’s preparedness to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Consequently, the ministry of health moved swiftly to create smaller units of COVID-19 testing centres, which included the NIMR free initiative on March 30.

To date, the NCDC has recorded 256,013 COVID-19 cases and 3,186 deaths.

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