Mass deaths in Kano, Nigeria due to Covid-19, apprehension as work resumes

Presidential medical team leader, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo explained that the verbal autopsies and tests carried out established without doubt that COVID-19 caused the deaths that had earlier been described by state officials as being caused by a “mysterious” ailment.

The mysterious deaths in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano have been attributed to the raging Coronavirus, a presidential team investigating the cases said on Sunday.

Kano is the largest city in northern Nigeria and the most populous in the country. The state has seen a sharp rise in the death of senior citizens from age 55 and above, triggering a call for federal intervention.

Leader of the medical team investigating the deaths, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo said in a preliminary report on Sunday that his panel while working to unravel the cause of the deaths established that Covid-19 is largely responsible.

“With the preliminary report, most of the recent deaths recorded and tests carried out point to coronavirus. Hence, before the final reports which are expected in the next one week or few days, it is necessary for people of the state to wake up from their slumber and understand that this is a serious issue at hand”, Gwarzo told journalists in Kano.

The report was made public on a day that Nigerians were making last minute preparations ahead of resumption of work on Monday after President Muhammadu Buhari announced the easing of the lockdown in major states for work to resume and for the economy to start picking up.

Gwarzo who led the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to the State spoke in Kano during the donation of mobile testing laboratories to the State government by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, an indigene of Kano state.

Dr. Gwarzo explained that the autopsies and tests carried out established without doubt that COVID-19 caused the deaths.

Deaths and Covid-19 denial

Nigeria’s The Nation reported that the Kano State government had repeatedly announced that the deaths were not coronavirus-related. It attributed the deaths first to “mysterious” causes, then malaria and then hypertension.

“We have five cogent reasons to say that the mass deaths recorded in Kano are associated with the Coronavirus”, Gwarzo said while insisting that a look at the age of the deceased persons, concentration of the people in one place and tests that were carried out, all showed evidence of COVID-19 infections.

The investigating panel expressed worry over the attitude of Kano residents to the fight against COVID-19, stating that many Kano residents continue to exhibit nonchalant attitude to laid down rules for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Awareness is a big issue and the people must take precautionary measures against the spread of the disease through community transmission, Gwarzo explained.

Gwarzo who is also the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health spoke on the ongoing interventions by the central government.

“We have six centres that are ready to take the upsurge. In the next 48hours, Kano will have a new 500 space capacity. In two weeks, we will be able to make one thousand to three thousand capacity so that more people are received, given care, and in the process protected from not only getting sick but protected from not transmitting the disease”, the federal official said.

“Here in Kano, we have about three centres, one has the capacity of 180 samples and another 80. That is 260 and with the Dangote Foundation bringing another new 400 sample capacity Mobile Testing Laboratory Centre in the state, there will be tremendous improvement”, Gwarzo concluded.

Between April 25 and the last week, Kano lost a number of prominent men and women including a former National Economic Intelligence Committee Chairman, Professor Ibrahim Ayagi, former Executive Secretary of the state Universal Basic Education, Adamu Dali, and a former Editor of Triumph Newspapers Musa Tijani among others.

Partial lockdown takes off

A week after President Buhari announced the beginning of a partial lockdown ease and partial kickstart of economic activities, News Central investigations found that some Nigerians remain apprehensive about going to work on Monday, when the new measures take effect, amidst the rising number of infections.

“Re-opening the economy in the midst of rising community transmission, low testing capacity and inadequate medical facilities is a recipe for disaster”, Jide Zaid, a senior lawyer in the commercial city of Lagos, posted on social media.

Ironically, those who were agitating for the lockdown to be lifted had suddenly decided that they would no longer venture out of their homes from Monday as the rising cases announced by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control calls for caution.

The NCDC on Sunday announced 170 new infections with the country now having a total of 2,558 cases, 400 persons discharged and 87 deaths.

The commercial city of Lagos continues to top the list of infected Covid-19 persons with 1107, followed by Kano state with 342 and the country’s capital Abuja with 278.

The Federal Government has now announced a compulsory wearing of facemask as work resumes and reduction of work hours with a national curfew from 8pm to 6am.

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