Kaduna State Government has disclosed that it may be forced to completely lockdown in order to curtail the spread if the number of COVID-19 cases should increase in the state.

The state government also expressed confidence in its capacity at the moment to test and treat cases, especially with the activation of a mobile van known as ‘Wellness On Wheel (WOW)’, which uses the revolutionary GeneXpert machine to test for both Tuberculosis and COVID-19.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai while speaking during the inauguration of the initiative narrated that it became necessary in order to further contain the spread of the disease, even as states across the country are easing restrictions.

He said, “We have decided that now that we are confident of our testing capability, we have enough test kits and our health system is becoming prepared to deal with the problem, we can open up and we have opened up and we are monitoring the situation.

“We are still reviewing the result of the last weekend compliance level of places of worship, and based on the result of compliance as well as rate of infection, we may lock down again.

“I am saying this for everyone in Kaduna State to hear. If we get to a level that the infection rate will overwhelm our health system and our health workers, we may lock down again, we will go back to complete lock down.

“I am appealing to the people of Kaduna State to comply with the protocols and minimize going out.

“Our health system is stronger and we have much testing capacity, we are much confident in dealing with the problem and we have a good success rate in the treatment of people that are infected, but let us not take things for-granted.

“This disease is a killer. I know it, I have experienced it, I don’t want any one in Kaduna State to experience it and if it becomes necessary to close down the borders and completely lock down, we will not hesitate to do it because, as I said, from the beginning, we will do whatever it takes to protect lives and we can apologise later for the inconvenience, but life comes first.”

El-Rufai applauded the KNCV TB Foundation and USAID for deploying the machine to State.

The Kaduna State government got the GeneXpert machine with the support of the United State Agency forInternational Development (USAID) and the KNCV TB Foundation, Nigeria.

He added, “The GeneXpert machine that can be used to test a variety of diseases, was brought by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) for TB, but with the outbreak of COVID-19, approval has been granted to also use it to test Coronavirus and it has been in our state for sometimes now. They have tested over 200 samples and many have been found positive.

“The vehicle is being used in communities where they have no contact traced and check whether there is COVID-19 infection and the result has been a little scary- 15 per cent rate of infection in the communities where they have tested.

“These are high risks communities in the border states. This has been very helpful because for the first time, we are getting a sense of the geography and demography of the spread of the infection.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of KNCV TB Foundation, Nigeria, Dr. Bethrand Odume, explained that the WoW truck is built with a GeneXpert machine and an Xray.

He said, “The good thing is that you can equally use the GeneXpert to test for COVID-19 and since we are already working in tuberculosis (TB) programme, this is actually an intersection between COVID-19 and TB.

“We decided that since Kaduna is one of our states, we decided to support the state government. It may surprise you to know that this is the first GeneXpert in the country. After South Africa, Kaduna is the second in Africa.

“For us to increase the test for COVID-19, what we need is rapid diagnostic platform. These are platforms that one can maximize to improve access to COVID-19 testing and we have it in the WoW truck.

“The good thing with WOW is that, it is a mobile van, it can go to places and into the community and ensure contact tracing. For the past five days we have been in Kaduna, it has been a very good success.”