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UI Allays Fears about Coronavirus Testing Centre

University of Ibadan has allayed the fears of community members about the siting of Coronavirus diagnostic centre in its College of Medicine.

National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated the Laboratory in the Department of Virology, College of Medicine of University of Ibadan on 28 March as COVID-19 diagnostic centre.

Prof. Georgina Odaibo, the Head of the Department of Virology of the University assured the public that the virology laboratory is International Standards Organisation (ISO) certified to handle cases such as Coronavirus.

She added that the laboratory is audited annually by a team of international experts to ensure that global best practices are in place and sustained.

She explained further that ‘for NCDC to approve a laboratory, it must have the necessary biosafety and bio-containment systems to be able to work with any pathogen.

‘Our laboratory is a P2 laboratory, with a very good system for deactivating the sample and managing the waste to avoid contaminating the environment,’ she said.

She added that the laboratory does not pose any threat to community members as it is located away from residential areas and housed in an ultramodern building donated to the Department by the Federal Ministry of Health through the support of the World Bank.

Earlier this week some protesters had destroyed a COVID-19 testing centre being built in Ivory Coast’s district of Yopougon for fears that it was located too close to residential area.

While commenting on the preparedness of the department for handling Coronavirus cases, the Professor of Virology noted that ‘Department of Virology at University of Ibadan is a National Influenza Centre (NIC) which played a great role in the investigation of previous outbreaks such as the 1968/69 influenza pandemic, Bird Flu in 2006, Swine Flu of 2009, and Ebola of 2014.

The University of Ibadan Virology Department started as a virus research laboratory in 1962 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the University of Ibadan. Its primary objective is to isolate and characterise viruses from different parts of the country. Since the inception of the Department, almost 15 new viruses first known to medical science were identified and characterised there.

Among these viruses is a strain of HIV circulating across West Africa, which was first isolated and characterised by Prof. O. D. Olaleye of the Department.

The laboratory has since its approval commenced testing of COVID-19 samples from Oyo, Kwara and Ogun States.

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