Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), says no state in the country is COVID-19 free.
Speaking at the presidential task force briefing on Monday, Ihekweazu said a state can only talk about being COVID-19 free when it is testing and have the effective tool to fight the disease.
He added that the states need to start testing now as the agency is working to develop its laboratory capacity to test more.
“No state in Nigeria is COVID-19 free. No country in the world is COVID-19 free,” he said.
“That is why we have to keep doing this work we are doing, testing people, finding out if they have it. Even if some of us are lucky and get away with having asymptomatic infections, we have to test more.
“We can only talk about a state being disease free when we have an effective tool to fight the disease. That will come when we have a vaccine. Until then, there is no easy way to say this. We have to keep pushing for these preventive measures. We have to develop our laboratory capability to test.
“Either you start testing now or you start testing later. But eventually, we will all test. That’s for sure.”
Cross River is the only state where any case of COVID-19 has not been officially confirmed in the country.
In a statement on June 13, the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said there has been an increase of unusual deaths from an acute respiratory disease in the state.
On Thursday, Godwin Akwaji, a lawmaker in the state house of assembly, died at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) isolation centre after showing symptoms of COVID-19.
According to the situation report of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for June 10, 2020, the south-south state had only tested nine samples out of its over four million population, while neighbouring states have recorded cases and are battling community transmission.
But the state government has repeatedly said the measures it put in place worked in making Cross River free of the disease.