Fear Grows As Hospitals Release COVID-19 Test Results In Two Weeks

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Some hospitals have been delaying the release of COVID-19 test  results causing a spike in the spread of the virus.

It was learnt on Tuesday that some persons suspected to have contracted COVID-19 were made to wait between two and three weeks to get their results.

Some of those affected confirmed to one of our correspondents that they were told to go home and come back after two weeks.

The Nigerian Medical Association and  the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives raised the alarm that the delay could cause a further spike in COVID-19 cases.

As of April 22, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country was 873. The cases increased to 7,261 on May 22 while 20,919 cases were recorded on June 22.

I was tested in a weedy hospital and told to come after after two weeks – 70-year-old man

An Ibadan-based businessman, Mr. Omololu Akinyosoye, who recently lost a friend to COVID-19, said he decided to visit the Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan, last Friday to get tested having been in contact with the deceased.

Akinyosoye, who is almost 70, said that after he was tested, he was told to check back in two weeks for the result.

He said, “I went to the Jericho Specialist Hospital to get tested last Friday. There were eight members of staff there and we had to wait for long there before they attended to us. The whole compound had been overtaken by weeds.

“They asked why I came for testing and I said a friend of mine died of COVID-19 and I had contact with him. I wanted to be sure whether I had it so I could get treated even though I showed no symptoms.

“I was questioned under a tent where many other people came for testing. There was no privacy whatsoever as they asked me to reveal my medical history. After the test, they said I should return in two weeks.

“When I asked why, they said they were sending samples to the UCH (University College Hospital) and that too many people were coming for testing even from far away Ondo State. I asked why they couldn’t decentralise the testing, but they didn’t respond.”

I am confused on what to do’

Akinyosoye said he was confused as to what step he would take.

“I was told it takes three weeks in some cases to get results.

“You could be dead before then. Why take this test if it will not come out on time? I am begging The PUNCH to let the world know what we are facing,” Akinyosoye said.

I might have infected others, says civil servant who got result after three weeks

A government official in Lagos told The PUNCH that he faced a similar challenge when he went to get tested three weeks ago.

He said he was informed that he was positive three weeks after being tested and feared he might have infected others if the result was indeed accurate.

He said, “I fell ill early this month. I had malaria and a severe cough. I made my way to the Mainland Hospital to get tested and I was given the number of one doctor, whom I called repeatedly to get an update but the doctor  said they had a scarcity of reagents.

It’s worrisome – NMA

Reacting to the development, the NMA expressed concern about the delay in releasing test results for COVID-19 patients.

The President of the NMA, Prof. Innocent  Ujah, who spoke to one of  our correspondents in Jos, said it was strange that the samples taken from patients for testing would take two to three weeks before their results would be released.

Uja, who described the development as unhelpful in the fight against COVID-19, challenged the Federal Government to tell Nigerians the problems they were facing so as to find a collective solution to the issues involved.

The NMA President said “Honestly, I don’t know why it is taking  the Federal Government Task Force on COVID-19 that long before releasing the test results of patients. Anybody whose sample is taken wants to know the outcome of the results.

“Why should it take two to three weeks before the results are released. It is possible some people are not doing what they are supposed to  be doing  because laboratory processes must be recorded and documented.”

It’s dangerous – Nurses’ association

On his part, the President of the NANNM, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, said it was dangerous for hospitals to delay results.

He asked, “How come the results will not be released for two or three weeks? Where is that happening? Well, I’m not privy to that, but we won’t say that is okay because it portends danger for not only the person that goes  for test, if  the person  is positive, there is the tendency that such a person will have infected many people between the time the person did the test and the outcome of the result.  The tendency is very high.

“But we equally want to say that it could be due to the number of tests that the centres are handling.”

NCDC explains delay

But the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control indicated that the logistics involved in transporting samples from states without laboratories to the nearest state with laboratories might be contributing to the delay in releasing results of COVID-19 tests.

The centre however said efforts were being made to ensure that there is a laboratory for testing in each state, therefore shortening the time of confirmation of result.

The NCDC disclosed this in a document tagged “Frequently asked questions on COVID-19 diagnostics” posted on its website on Tuesday.It  put the current time frame for collection of results at between 48 and 96 hours.

The message read, “For states that do not have a laboratory, samples are transported to the nearest state with a laboratory for testing of COVID-19.

“However, the NCDC is working hard to ensure that there is a laboratory for the testing of COVID-19 in each state.

“This will enhance access to testing and shorten the time for confirmation of result. Currently, the turnaround time is between 48 and 96 hours.”

Lagos turnaround time for COVID-19 results has improved – Commissioner

Also, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotosho,  said the turnaround time for COVID-19 testing results had improved in the state.

Omotosho, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the delay being experienced before people got their result was a thing of the past in the state.

He stated, “For people complaining about not getting their test results on time, what is happening is that there was a huge backlog when the reagents were scarce which was a global problem.  All the local government areas in the state have sample collection centres, but from my knowledge, the backlog has been offset.

“The turnaround time for the testing has improved.  It takes about four to five days now. Don’t forget the kind of testing we are doing in Lagos is the molecular testing and not testing by kits.”