Coronavirus: Are African countries struggling to increase testing?

African countries have started to lift lockdown restrictions, raising fears that coronavirus infections could rise.

The World Health Organization has said countries should consider their ability to test and trace before lifting lockdown.

The continent has so far conducted 1.2 million tests since the start of the epidemic.

But is that enough?

.@WHO recommends countries answer these 3 questions to determine how to release a lockdown:
-is the epidemic under control?
-is the health system able to cope with a resurgence of cases?
-is the surveillance system able to detect & manage the cases & their contacts?

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) May 11, 2020

Nigeria - a very low testing rate

Africa’s most populous nation has now begun to relax some of its lockdown measures despite having one of the lowest testing rates on the continent,

It’s is a major challenge in country of 200 million people, and there are a limited number of laboratories able to process tests.

Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said in late April: “I would rather go a little bit slower and get it right than speed into a situation that we will end up regretting.”

We're pleased to announce the inclusion of the 24th lab to the National #COVID19 Laboratory Network:

Everight Diagnostic & Laboratory Services, Imo State

Read our latest guide on the integration of private sector laboratories for #COVID19 testing

— NCDC (@NCDCgov) May 12, 2020

The Nigerian government says it’s focused on clusters of outbreaks rather than mass testing of the population.