//Nigeria coronavirus: 31,323 cases; Atiku rejects WAEC cancellation

Nigeria coronavirus: 31,323 cases; Atiku rejects WAEC cancellation

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as at end of June 2020 was Africa’s third most impacted country only behind South Africa and Egypt.

As Africa’s biggest economy, the federal government has continued to enforce regulations across the board even though most state governments have moved to relax restrictions.

The national response is led by the Presidential Task Force, PTF, led by SGF Boss Mustapha along with a national coordinator and relevant ministers – chief among them, Health, Foreign Affairs and Education ministries. At the heart of the response is the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC.

This article is dedicated to covering events from the country throughout the month of July. Our May 2020 page and June 2020 coverage also gives you a rundown of major developments.

The federal government has launched a diagnostic kit, which can detect the causal agent of COVID-19. It is known as RNASwift,

The kit was outdoored tt a press conference on Tuesday by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), the agency that developed it.

NABDA director-general Alex Akpa, told journalists the RNASwift test kit is an indigenous diagnostic test kit designed, developed and validated in Nigeria for the identification of the causal agent – SARS-Cov-2 – which causes COVID-19.

He stressed that the kit will not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-based COVID-19 testing but also expand the capacity by at least, 50 times. Another advantage it presents was the reduced cost by over 500 percent as compared to the conventional kit in use.

He said the diagnostic kit is “very accurate and sensitive’’ and competes favourably with conventional and commercially available kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

The project was undertaken in collaborative effort between NABDA, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR). It is not known as yet when it will be deployed to test samples.

On the education front, whiles the federal government has put off the reopening of schools, the canceling of the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC; exams has received a high level condemnation.

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has kicked against the move saying that Nigeria stood to lose. “As a parent and investor in the education sector, I wish to register that the Nigerian government’s policy of unilaterally cancelling the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, held annually by the West African Examinations Council, is not in Nigeria’s best interest.

“At a time of the global COVID19 pandemic, it is understandable that an abundance of caution be put in place to save lives. However, caution, without consultation, and thoughtful action, may be counterproductive.

“1.5 million Nigerian youths write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination annually. To abruptly cancel this examination is to set back our nation’s youth, and place them behind their contemporaries in other West African countries,” he said in a Twitter thread on Friday.

In giving an alternative to the cancellation, the former veep wrote: “We could mobilise all available public & private infrastructures, including primary schools, stadia, and cinemas, for the examinations. In the alternative, the Federal Government can prevail on WAEC to have staggered examinations with a different set of questions for each shift.

“Doing so will allow WAEC Nigeria to implement social distancing and achieve the goal of carrying out the examinations. A win-win scenario.”

Confirmed cases = 31,323

Active cases = 17,819

Recoveries = 12,795

Number of deaths = 709

(AFP)