The federal government says it has developed a test kit — SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) — that enables rapid testing of COVID-19 within 40 minutes.
Olorunnimbe Mamora, the minister of state for health, who stated this on Tuesday at the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing, said the kit was developed by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
Mamora said the test kit produces results faster than the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which is currently the sole source of testing in the country; the PCR test takes several hours to produce results.
“It is the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA) which can be performed by low skilled personnel with minimum training. This test which is ten times cheaper than the PCR can be deployed for point-of-care detection and surveillance,” he said.
Speaking on the need to improve the country’s health sector in the event of future outbreaks, Mamora said there are plans to ensure that all states have at least one infectious disease centre.
“Our goal is to have at least one standard infectious disease centre in every state. We shall therefore work with states to establish purpose-built treatment centres that will ensure we are better prepared for infectious disease outbreaks in the country,” he said.
The minister appealed to governors to speed up testing in their respective states, adding that it is only through testing and isolation that the curve of the coronavirus can be flattened.
“I shall again renew my appeal to state governments to continue to ensure that we step up case findings, sample collection and testing. It is only by testing that we can identify those with the infection for isolation and treatment,” Mamora said.
As of September 28, over 500,000 samples have been tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria, with close to 60,000 persons confirmed to have contracted the virus; however, close to 50,000 patients have recovered.