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COVID-19: Using Genexpert Machine is a Good Oppurtunity- FG.

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The Federal Ministry of health has deployed the use of genexpert machines to aid the test of corona virus in its isolation centres across the country.

According to staff of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP), Mr Elom Emeka said this is a good opportunity for Nigerians.

“The Stop TB Partnership and Global Drug Facility (GDF) has expanded its Diagnostic Catalogue to include a new test novel coronavirus SARS –CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID -19 disease.

The Xpert Express SARS- CoV-2 test cartridges is being produced at US$19.80 per cartridge from the manufacturer, Cepheid.

The Xpert Express SARS- CoV-2 test cartridge received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 21 March, 2020.

The cartridge can be used on any of the currently available GeneXpert systems running on a software version 4.7 or higher in recommended Biosafety level laboratory (eg: BSL 2 – reference laboratories) which are available in many states in the country.

The Xpert Express SARS- CoV-2 test can provide rapid detection of the current pandemic corona virus SARS- CoV-2 in about 45 minutes with few minutes of hands on time to prepare the sample.

There are 14 TB reference laboratories out of which ten (10) are currently functional (some with key challenges). The 10 functional TB reference laboratories are as below and be informed that there are equipped with Four (4) modules that can process four samples per cycle/machine:

I. National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centre (NTBLTC), Saye Zaria: I machine

II. Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba: 2 machines

III. University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo state: I machine

IV. University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Rivers state 2 machines

V. Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos, Plateau state: I machine (+ 1 in APIN supported laboratory)

VI. Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano state: I machine

VII. Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yola, Adamawa state: I machine

VIII. DR Lawerence Henshaw Memorial Hosp (DLHMH), Calabar, C/River state: 2 machines

IX. State Specialist Hospital Amachara, Abia state: I machine

X. Zankli TB Reference Lab, Bingham University, Karu, Nasarawa state, 4 machines

In order to facilitate testing through these TB reference laboratories, there is need to ensure adequate provision of the following:

I. Trained Human Resources

II. Certified Biosafety cabinet Class 2

III. Alternate source of Power such as generators, high capacity Solar panels, Batteries and Inverters etc

IV. Functional Air Conditioners

V. Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

VI. Appropriate consumables such as Universal sample medium /Viral Transport medium, sterile sample collection swabs & Xpert Express SARS- CoV-2 test cartridges

VII. Tools (R/R), QMS etc

VIII. Optimized sample referral mechanism support.

The other non-functional TB reference laboratories are UNTH Enugu, UMTH Borno state, GH Kubwa, FCT and yet to be activated Defence Module TB reference laboratory, Mogadishu Cantonment, Abuja. These can be supported for appropriate utilization.

Beyond the TB reference laboratories, there are other reference laboratories already equipped with Xpert machines with international and national accreditation that can be supported accordingly e.g. International Organization on Migration (IOM) Reference Laboratories located in Abuja & Lagos and NCDC National Reference Laboratories etc.

Finally, we propose that the government and stakeholders may consider procuring higher module GeneXpert machines (module 16, Infinity-48, Infinity-80) and place in appropriate laboratories to meet up with the high testing rate for detection and management of COVID 19 Disease.”

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