COVID-19: DPR recommends antigen rapid diagnostic tests for offshore workers

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has recommended the use of Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Ag-RDTs) for offshore workers in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

The DPR made the recommendation on Wednesday in a circular to the oil and gas industry operators and all industry service providers on the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The circular said the World Health Organisation had granted Emergency Use Authorisation for two Ag-RDTs which were SD Biosensor and Abbott with above 80 per cent sensitivity and above 97 per cent specificity.

According to the circular, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has subsequently approved their use in Nigeria as contained in the guidance for the Use of Approved COVID-19 Ag-RDTs released in January, 2021.

”Consequently, the DPR is by this circular, advising operators and service providers to commence the use of these approved Ag-RDTs .

“This is with the aim of addressing the cost implications and psychological impacts on staff due to the current practice of mandatory 710 days isolation to and from offshore/remote locations.

“Ag-RDTs can typically be conducted within a short turnaround time of 10 to 30 minutes by medical personnel with the requisite training,” the circular said.

It further advised them to adhere to the NCDC guidelines.

“All Ag-RDTs positive results should be interpreted as positive results; counselling, isolation and national case management guidelines should be adhered to.

“For asymptomatic case or a high-risk contact who tests negative on Ag-RDT, a Polymerase Chain Reaction confirmation test becomes mandatory to rule out COVID-19,” the circular said.

It said furthermore, all operators and service providers are to comply with the NCDC guidelines in the use of COVID-19 testing self-reporting case investigation form.

The circular also directed them to submit monthly returns of summary of test results to the DPR for the monitoring of industry performance in this regard.

“Whilst hoping for the imminent end of this global pandemic and early return to normal operations, please be rest assured that DPR will continue to support your business and facilitate continuity of operations in overriding national interest, ” it said. (NAN)