The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated the newly inaugurated Bayelsa State Molecular Laboratory, Research and Diagnostic Centre as a COVID-19 testing laboratory in the country.
The facility, which was inaugurated by Governor Douye Diri on Tuesday, brought the number of NCDC accredited laboratories in the country to 66 in 34 states.
The NCDC in a letter signed by the Laboratory Network Advisor, Celestina Obiekea, and addressed to the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, stated that the laboratory had fulfilled the necessary requirements for a molecular laboratory to test for COVID as well as met all successful validations and optimizations.
It further explained that the state will be responsible for procurement of consumables, equipment and other materials while the NCDC will support it with reagents and tests kits. “This is to officially inform you that having fulfilled the necessary requirements for a molecular laboratory to test for COVID and all successful validations and optimizations, the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Bayelsa Medical University is now activated as a COVID testing laboratory in Nigeria. The state will be primarily responsible for procurement of consumables, equipment and other materials while NCDC will support with reagents and tests kits as available to all labs at the national level. The lab is required to report daily test statistics to NCDC as part of the national testing data,” the NCDC stated.
While inaugurating the centre, Governor Diri expressed delight at the quality of medical equipment in the laboratory. He said the setting up of the centre marked the end of the rigorous task of getting sample results from Edo and Rivers states. His words: “From when we had the index case to the point of collection of samples out of Bayelsa to as far as Irrua in Edo State, it was not comfortable for us because it took a long time to get there. Same for the test and the sample results to be ready.
“There were some results we got two months later from Rivers State. From that time, we became determined to have our own testing centre and laboratory. Then I gave a directive to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and his team. I’m happy because it is one thing to give approval and another to get it implemented. So, I appreciate the Permanent Secretary, the Director of Public Health, Vice Chancellor of the Bayelsa Medical University and others who made it possible for us to have this centre. Now we have our own laboratory and test centre even beyond COVID-19. I call on Bayelsans to take full advantage of this centre.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, on his part, described the inauguration of the centre as the most advanced measure and comprehensive COVID-19 response plan for disease control in the state.
Dr. Apoku said the centre had been adjudged as one of the best by the NCDC during the accreditation process considering the type of COVID-19 equipment put in place. He noted that the centre can process 200 samples in three to four hours, stressing that with a disease that spreads quickly as COVID, every hour is critical to containment.