COVID-19: The hope, the sadness as Enugu records two new cases

The spate at which the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases is increasing daily in Nigeria makes many fear the saying ‘wonders shall never end’ as many wonder when we will overcome the clutching hands of a deadly virus that did not only have the ability to create a social distance but also crumbled the economy while putting many in an unprecedented hardship.

Just yesterday, a report from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed that Nigeria as of 23rd May recorded 265 New confirmed cases of the disease which further indicated that Enugu and Anambra States had 2 cases each.

The total number of Confirmed cases just like an actively replicating virus has surged tremendously to 7,526 while recoveries dawdle at 2174, and death toll worsen at 221.

Some Nigerians are of the hope that the world would heal and bounce back again while some who have been downcast and frustrated by the unending number of Confirmed cases of the disease in Nigeria do not really believe the virus exists as much as claimed by the health agencies.

The glaring question remains, ‘when will all these end?’ The low income earners who depend on their daily earnings for a living are chewing their intestines in hunger while the stay at home order linger.

Well, hope never dies for anyone alive unless mentally imbalanced.

Breakthrough that rekindles hope:
On Thursday 21st May, 2020, the Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Nigeria has blazed a trail in Africa with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) successfully validating the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.

Prof. Akpa stated:
The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa. 
The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase ChainReaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,’’ Akpa said.

He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.
This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director-general said.
The DG further disclosed that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from the African Development Bank.

The Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, said he was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to “launch this wonderful project.’’

According to Nnaemeka, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.

He said there were serious concerns for the need to have more extraction kits in- country, and that there was growing demand worldwide for extraction kits.
The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that theymeet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,

The NCDC chief molecular bioengineer noted that the first phase of the evaluation results he carried out with the NABDA scientific team was “awesome and successful.’’

The kits compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, infact, it scored highly in purity and in the quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production.

He clarified that to be able to conduct test, the viral information which comes as the RNA has to first be extracted and without this extraction, no test can be conducted.

What will tell you that the virus is there is contained in the RNA, so RNA is required for you to be able to detect COVID-19.
Dr Nnaemeka added that as scientists, they would soon carry out the second phase of the evaluation which would involve a real sample of COVID-19.

Director-General (DG) of National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, last week stated that they have started working on coronavirus potential remedy drugs submitted by Nigerians.

The NAFDAC DG, who spoke on a television programme explained that the submissions were made after the agency called for expression of interest for the COVID-19 related medicines from researchers and practitioners.
I made a call for people to submit their application and I believe we have about three or four now and we are going to expedite the processing because it takes a while for us to go through the laboratory testing and what not but I have already given the directive to expedite. 
So, where we are right now is just to make sure that the information submitted is okay and by the end of the week, we may be sending these samples to the lab after we must have gone to inspect the site where the products are made because we don’t want a product that somebody will take and the person will start vomiting. 
So, we will go and inspect the site to make sure that whatever sample we are going to get must have been prepared in an environment that will not make the drug to compromise the health of the user. 
If somebody says he or she has a remedy for COVID, first of all, we want to know the history of the plant or the family the plant belongs to, background information on the botanical characteristics of the plant, we will also want to know whether the plant has been used for anything before because sometimes, we use one plant for several diseases and the usage will be different for a particular disease.
She furthered that instead of spending huge amounts of money to get the COVID Organic from Madagascar, she would prefer such money to be spent on herbal remedies produced in Nigeria.

In a similar motive, Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, last week revealed that the Federal Government is conducting a study on the efficacy of some drugs to treat patients who tested positive to Covid -19 in five centres in the country.
As I said before, there is a study being done on the efficacy of some drugs by about five centres in our country and hydraulic chloroquine is one of them. When the result comes out, I will share with you.
My submission:
Only the Nigerians with hope of a better tomorrow will tell the story of 2020 in 2030. 

We may not have been through a worse situation of this magnitude but our attitude towards the situation will alter the vicissitude for our glorious altitude.

Enugu State is the hands of God!

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