On Tuesday, 14th of April, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde kicked off the rapid testing of two thousand residents of the state within the next two weeks.
According to him, this initiative is part of the efforts of the state government to test at least ten thousand people for COVID-19 in the state.
However, the implication, based on data, is that the state – and its residents – should most likely brace for more cases, OYOINSIGHT’s Adebayo Abdulrahman writes.
Jeremy Rossman, a senior lecturer in Virology at the University of Kent, in an article to explain why there are so few Coronavirus cases in Africa and Russia compared to the rest of the world, wrote that “there is a range of explanations for low case numbers, including weak travel connections, effective border screening, and travel restrictions, local climate effects, a lack of screening or a lack of reporting”.
He wrote further that “the low levels of reported cases in many countries may be due to a lack of testing or a lack of reporting. Many countries are actively pursuing policies in which only those with serious illness and a travel history to an area with strong local transmission will be tested.
According to him, “This will lead to a dramatic under-reporting of case numbers and can jeopardize the ability to contain the pandemic.”
Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa’s head, said at a teleconference last week that there is an urgent need to increase testing in Africa. She suggested that testing be expanded beyond major cities.
A report by Mayoma Tijani, the Development Editor of TheCable, to explain how testing influences the number of confirmed cases in African countries showed that South Africa, the country with the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa, which stands at 2,028 at the time of writing the report, has also conducted the highest number of tests on the continent.
The analysis by TheCable also showed that Egypt with 1,939 cases which is the second-highest on the continent has tested 25,000 people which is the third-highest.
Even though the data available to the public on the website of the NCDC does not provide insight into the number of tests that have been conducted by each state, the country has tested only five thousand people whoich is the same number of people South Africa will test in a day or two.
Further analysis by TheCable based on data on Worldometer showed that Ghana, which recorded its first case on March 12, 2020 — two weeks after Nigeria’s first case — has tested 37,405 people.
Ghana has only 28.8 million people, while Nigeria — the most populous country on the continent — has a population of 201 million people, according to the United Nations (UN).
South Africa, with a population of 58.6 million people, has tested 75,053 people since its first case was confirmed on March 5, 2020.
Based on this, it is logical to predict that if Oyo State should conduct 2,000 tests – which is almost half the 5,000 tests that have been conducted in the country so far – in the next two weeks there will be an increase in the number of cases in the state.
Even though this sounds alarming in a state that has only four active cases at the moment but in the long run it is a welcome development.
The need for an increase in the number of tests conducted is neither to cause panic nor increase the number of affected people, rather, it is in line with the second advice by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in his opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 on the 13th of March 2020.
He said, “You can’t fight a virus if you don’t know where it is. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission.”
In a report by ourworldindata on the 31st of March, it explained that testing is one of our most important tools in the fight to slow and reduce the spread and impact of the virus.
It added that tests allow us to identify infected individuals, guiding the medical treatment that they receive. It enables the isolation of those infected and the tracing and quarantining of their contact.