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Nigerian authorities cite need for more COVID-19 test sample collections

Nigerian authorities cite need for more COVID-19 test sample collections
A dedicated ambulance for Covid-19 patients drives along a road near a food market in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, Nigeria, 04 May 2020. After a five week long lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes the Covid-19 disease the Lagos metropolitan government lifted the ban on human and vehicular movements allowing the food markets and other essential services to open as schools and government offices remain closed. (Photo: EPA-EFE/AKINTUNDE AKINLEYE)

ABUJA, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Nigerian authorities are disturbed by the low level of coronavirus test sample collections, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Africa’s most populous country of some 200 million inhabitants, as of Thursday had 54,463 confirmed coronavirus cases which have resulted in 1,027 deaths.

Boss Mustapha, who chairs the government’s task force on the disease, said he and other officials who make up the panel overseeing the response to the pandemic were “disturbed by the low level of sample collection” because of the implications for testing, tracing, and treatment.

“Despite the increased diagnostic capacity and improved access to testing, the demand remains low with not enough samples being collected,” he said, adding that “the recent reduction in cases in some states could be attributed to low testing.”

Africa has fared better than expected, health experts say. The continent’s number of new cases fell 11% in the past four weeks John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told an online news conference on Thursday.

However, Nkengasong said inadequate testing still means the picture is incomplete. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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