The Lagos State government on Tuesday ruled out the option of Rapid Test Kits for COVID-19 testing, saying “most results from rapid tests are five times inaccurate and not fit to be used in an outbreak like COVID-19.”
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, stated this while inspecting a completed 120-bed isolation centre provided by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) as part of the efforts to support the state government in the COVID-19 containment in the state.
Abayomi told journalists the rapid testing was yet to be validated anywhere in the world due to its high degree of inaccuracy.
The Commissioner said: “A rapid test may only be 50 percent accurate and that means five out of 10 times rapid test will give you a wrong result.”
He said the state government is currently using a Molecular Biology test that can only be done in a reference laboratory and not anywhere.
Abayomi also disclosed that currently, the three laboratories in the state has a capacity for running up to 100 tests daily, adding that plans are on the way to increase it to 150 by next week.
He added: “We can test up to a 100 right now but as from next week, we should be able to increase it to 150 upwards and other week, 200 upwards. So the kind of laboratory we use for COVID-19 is not an ordinary laboratory and results from them are 100 percent accurate.”
On why many people are not being tested, he said: “I want the public to understand that these are not the type of laboratory you just walk in and say you want a blood test. They are very precise laboratories. For example, if you just want to know your status, you are not qualified for testing. We don’t test for peace of mind we test to determine that the sickness is COVID-19 or something else. So there are criteria that qualify you for testing. If you meet those criteria, then we test you. We have enough capacity right now at the moment.”
“In a rapid test most of the time, Quiet often, you may not be sure of the result you are given. For instance, if you test positive we are going to admit you based on that result and you are now going to be put in a ward where there are other positive patients. Within six hours you will become positive. That is a risk we are not prepared to take. Similarly, if you are positive and we give you a negative result you will go back to your house and positive, then you are now going to endanger your family and the community. So we are not ready for the rapid test yet because we are not sure of the accuracy and we need to ensure that we validate it in this environment.”
On the isolation centre donated by LUTH for the pandemic, the commissioner who noted that there has been a slight increase in the cases expressed gratitude to the management of the hospital for providing to the state government what he described as “spacious and clean “ isolation centre.
“It has many of the facets that are important to an ideal isolation facility. Although it has not been commissioned we came to look at what other facilities we can add to make sure it is compliant to a bio-containment and biosafety isolation ward needs to have.
“We are happy those adjustments could be made over the weeks and then this will now become a facility the state can use into the future as you know we are expanding our capacity at Yaba, Onikan and Gbagada and we got some isolation plans in different hospitals. We are not fully at Yaba. We still have a lot of capacity at Yaba and there is need to panic.
The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, explained that the donation of ready to use 120 beds isolation centre was to tackle COVID-19 in the state.
He said already the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) donated a total of 60 beds out of the 120 beds in the centre.