The Chairman of Dangote Refineries, Alhaji Aloko Dangote, has engaged 54gene Laboratory to conduct 1,000 COVID-19 test per day in Kano.
This comes after spates of mysterious deaths, including high profile personalities in the last couple of weeks.
Prominent among the recent, worrisome deaths include Prof. Isa Hashim, a senior council member, Kano Emirate Council. Hashim’s death came barely 24 hours after the death of Emir of Rano, Alhaji Abubakar Tafida.
54Gene is accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and has already set up labs in Lagos and in Ogun States. The 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialized in research, and diagnostics, to immediately set up a 400 test/day capacity laboratory in Kano State.
The lab was inaugurated on Sunday in Kano, and will start with a testing capacity of 400 tests a day, increasing to 1,000 tests a day by May 10th, a statement from Dangote Foundation said.
The lab will be set up at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Kano, where an isolation center is currently operational.
The President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said the foundation is directly supporting the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 containment efforts in Kano State. According to Dangote, this new investment in support of increasing nationwide testing, comes in addition to ADF’s support through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
He explained: “CACOVID is already setting up a 310 bed isolation center at Sani Abacha stadium in Kano. We are extending that capacity by another 150 beds at the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre in Kano, which is being converted into an isolation center now. These two centers will be operational pending the final validation by the Infection Prevention and Control team, which we expect will be completed in the coming days.”
Dangote pledged the Foundation’s commitment to reduce the number of lives lost to diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola and other deadly viruses in the State.
He said the foundation would not relent in using its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of sickness and poverty.
Speaking on the efforts of the Foundation to assist the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of ADF, Zouera Youssoufou, added that ADF is also supporting the Rapid Response Teams in their work to identify suspected covid-19 cases across the healthcare centers in Kano. “ADF will immediately handover to the Kano RRT, 10 new ambulances (4 that ae immediately available and 6 over the next week), two vehicles and PPEs to support the transportation of patients from different parts of the state”, she said.
She said that the Foundation is also supporting the Kano State Covid-19 contact call center that responds to citizen queries and concerns around Covid-19 and refers people to the proper place for follow up, by providing extra phone lines and ICT infrastructure as well as training for the call center staff.
On training, she disclosed: “We are supporting training and incentives for covid-19 health workers. We will provide hazard incentives and protections for the healthcare and lab workers who are working on the covid-19 response. We are also providing training to them, initially online and via distance learning, and will complement his with in-person training in Kano under strict IPC protocols developed in conjunction with the NCDC.
“ADF will continue to provide PPEs to the Kano State Covid-19 Taskforce, which will then be distributed to the hospitals as appropriate. Items already supplied include coveralls, gloves, masks, respirators, goggles, boots and sanitizers.
“We are expanding the CACOVID communications strategy in Kano by adding more communications and advocacy around Covid-19 prevention across radio, TV and traditional and community leaders.”
Commending ADF, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje stated: “There’s no doubt we started on a shaky foundation, with assistance of ADF, we can see that a friend in deed is a friend in need. We are very grateful for the mobile testing Centre witch will launch with 400 samples per day and after a week, increase to 1,000 tests per day.
“It is now left for us to intensify efforts to collect samples. We will ensure that all that 44 Local Government Council have collection centres. Here in the metropolitan local government, we will have 100s of collection centres because this is where the majority of the population is”.
The governor added that the state has intensify efforts to create awareness about the reality of coronavirus. He commended the Dangote Foundation for always occupying the forefront of helping in critical times like this.
Speaking on the collaboration, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, the 40ft structure built with container technology, provides a unique plug-and-play solution. Ene-Obong explained that the mobile laboratory is also fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.