COVID-19: Kano, Nigeria’s Looming Epicentre

COVID-19: Kano, Nigeria’s Looming Epicentre

Against backdrop of the revelation by Coordinator, Presidential Task Force Committee on COVID-19, Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, that coronavirus pandemic which has killed over 300,000 persons globally, is responsible for the waves of mysterious deaths recorded in  Kano State, there are worries that the country’s second most populous state would emerge the new epicentre. Gwarzo

Against backdrop of the revelation by Coordinator, Presidential Task Force Committee on COVID-19, Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, that coronavirus pandemic which has killed over 300,000 persons globally, is responsible for the waves of mysterious deaths recorded in  Kano State, there are worries that the country’s second most populous state would emerge the new epicentre.

Gwarzo said from the test carried out, it has been established that COVID-19 is the cause. This is coming amidst the charge of slow and inadequate response by the state government, leading to the festering of the virus.

Speaking on Sunday after the donation of mobile testing laboratory facilities by Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote to the Kano State Government, Gwarzo said, “Let me inform us that, most of the deaths recorded of recent and test carried out showed that coronavirus is the cause. So before the final reports which would be ready in the next one week or few days, it is necessary for people of Kano to wake up from their slumber that this is a serious issue.

“It is not a new thing, countries like America, China, Italy, Spain, England, France and others experienced similar mysterious deaths.”

Gwarzo had on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari led the technical team of the Presidential Task Force to unravel the cause of mysterious deaths in Kano and also to contain the spread of the virus in the state.

Earlier while presenting the mobile testing centre to the state government, the representative of the ‘Aliko Dangote Foundation’, Zouerra Yousufu said that the donation was to compliment the effort of the government in the fight against the pandemic in the state.

According to her, the centre has the capacity of testing 400 samples in a day, adding that 10 ambulances and six other vehicles were also donated to the state to ease movement.

“This centre with 400 testing capacity, we are planning by next week to commence testing of about 1,000 samples, and every logistic issue related to the laboratory, Dangote foundation will handle it.

“The laboratory which was conceived by a Nigerien and in Nigeria is aimed at speeding the testing of COVID-19 samples in the state.

“Looking at the population of Kano, more mobile laboratories are coming, and we assure you that the foundation will continue to support the fight against the pandemic in the stare and Nigeria in general.”

 “With these centres, our work in fighting the pandemic will be easier.

“I have to commend the effort of President Muhammad Buhari for ensuring the reactivation of the NCDC centre after it was shut down a week back.

Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, says the state is in trouble due to the presence of the coronavirus disease.

Speaking on Sunday at the presentation of a COVID-19 Mobile Testing Centre donated by the Dangote Foundation to the state, Ganduje said the delay in testing suspected cases was responsible for the spike in the number of coronavirus infections in the state.

According to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Abba Anwar, the Governor said the absence of functional testing centres in the state worsened its situation amid the pandemic.

Ganduje said, “There is no doubt that Kano is in trouble. And there is no doubt that we started on a shaky foundation. When samples were taken to Abuja for 7 hours and came back again in 7 hours, that was the shaky foundation I am talking about.

 “We then lodged our complaint to President Muhammadu Buhari, who ordered for the establishment of a Testing Centre at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, which after take-off was shut down for some days if not weeks. That was what escalated the transmission of the disease up to community transmission.

“But with the coming back of the AKTH Testing Centre and the addition of Bayero University, Kano that has the capacity of testing about 200 samples per day now, with the coming of Dangote Mobile Testing Centre of 400 samples capacity, we are making headway in facing the crisis squarely.”

Also present at the event, the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, was quoted to have said, “I just want the people of Kano to understand that we have not left you. We are behind you hundred per cent.

“I want to assure you that, by the time we hear from the findings of Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzo’s team from the Presidential Task Force, for the days they have been here, we will have more solutions that we will use in solving the problems from Kano.”

According to the NCDC as of the time of filing this report, 313 coronavirus infections have been reported in the state. Worse is that the state is indicted in the spread of the virus across the north. 

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, disclosed on his Twitter handle that following the confirmation of 16 more positive COVID-19 results among the almajiris repatriated from Kano, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in the state is now 57.

The Governor tweeted, “Covid-19 Update: The Kaduna State Ministry of Health this evening confirmed receipt of 16 more positive results, 15 of them from almajiris. The state has now recorded 50 cases from repatriated almajiris. Active cases have risen to 57.”

Former Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf has accused Governor Ganduje of spreading coronavirus across the North

In this interview with The Sun, the professor of haematology-oncology and bone marrow trans-plantation, warned that Nigeria’s end has started in Kano if urgent steps are not taken.

“People are dying in Kano, it is no more news that COVID-19 is killing people in that ancient city. But the Governor is downplaying it, or is he trying to cover it up? The Governor is lying, that is what we are saying. People are dying, in just a space of two days, three professors have died and other eminent citizens of Kano.

“My own part was to tell the world the tragedy happening in Kano. We are in trouble in Nigeria because if Kano goes down, the whole of Nigeria goes with it, as well as Africa. Kano is already going down, hundreds are dying every day; hundreds are dying every day and there is no solution.

“If you have a child who is a medical doctor, and he or she doesn’t have protection equipment, will you allow him or her to go to work? At Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, we lost two doctors to Lassa fever. The doctors are dying, nurses are dying. It is like sending a soldier to Sambisa forest without a gun, will he go? No soldier will ever attempt going into Sambisa forest without a gun to fight insurgents, he will run away.

“Kano is in deep problem; you people should go and find out. Nigeria is in trouble; Kano is in trouble, if care is not taken, Kano will kill all of us. Nigeria and Nigerians need to wake up to the reality that Kano will bring the whole of Africa down.

“People are dying, the cemeteries are filling up; in every household there is somebody that is sick right now.  Four persons, three professors in the university and my friend, who is a former vicar died yesterday (Monday). Hospitals are shutting down, and the only teaching hospital, there is no capacity, not even hand gloves. They are just telling the president lies,” he lamented.

After days of reports of ‘strange’ deaths in Kano, the state government, penultimate Sunday, acknowledged the recent deaths in the city, promising that it is on top of the situation. This is even as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded an immediate investigation into the disturbing strange deaths in Kano state, urging a Presidential visit to the state.

But in a statement made available to journalists in Kano, the state Commissioner of Information, Mr Muhammad Garba, said Governor Ganduje has already directed the state Ministry of Health to conduct a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the deaths.

Garba said although investigation into the cause of the deaths is still ongoing, preliminary report from the state Ministry of Health indicated that the deaths are not connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that reports from the state Ministry of Health has shown that most of the deaths were caused by complications arising from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis and acute malaria.

He further stated that Governor Ganduje is earnestly waiting for the final report from the state Ministry of Health so as to take necessary action. According to him, Governor Ganduje from the onset, demonstrated the zeal and political will to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

 “Governor Ganduje’s administration has been commended from within and outside the state over the proactive measures it took towards curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This explains why Kano, apart from being the most populous state, did not record a case of the pandemic until lately. Though we agree that the situation on hand currently is serious, we are not resting on our oars in taking appropriate measures to ensure that the good people of Kano state, and indeed, residents in the state protect themselves from the novel COVID-19 pandemic,” he stated.

He further noted that part of measures taken by the state government to stop the spread of the virus include the on-going lockdown, closing of boarders, aggressive campaign for social distancing, washing and sanitising of hands, as well as strict adherence to and practice of the principles of personal hygiene

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded an immediate investigation into the disturbing mass death in Kano State, urging a Presidential visit to the state, where no fewer than 640 citizens had reportedly died under mysterious circumstances in the last one week. The party’s call was predicated on conflicting reports emanating from Kano State on the cause of the sudden deaths particularly at this time that the nation is battling with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The call was contained in a statement by the party’s national publicity secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan. The PDP noted with dismay that the Buhari Presidency had failed to take any concrete step on this frightening development, but is, as usual, waiting to be prodded to stand up to the demand of the office and proceed to Kano State to identity with the people, find solution and contain the ugly situation.

The party described as lamentable that President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to lead from the front, and who recently took up the toga of ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Champion, had rather receded into the safety of Aso Villa and failed to promptly activate any concrete and visible action to investigate and arrest the situation in Kano, where Nigerians are dying in their hundreds.

 “When Ganduje, who is being dogged by allegations of corruption, was expected to ensure compliance to preventive measures, he rather chose to abandon governance and spent executive time pursuing controversial extraneous issues that have no direct benefits on the lives of the people.

“It is even more ludicrous that Governor Ganduje chose to politicize the health issues in his state by resorting to unnecessary denials and pecuniary concerns.

“Such anti-people approach to governance is always symptomatic of a leadership that did not emanate from the mandate of the people.

“Furthermore, it is left for Governor Ganduje to explain why he failed to contain his daughter, Dr. Amina Umar Ganduje, whose reported overbearing attitude in the Kano State COVID-19 task force allegedly contributed to the crippling of the activities of those charged with taking preventive measures”, the statement read in part.

The party therefore called on Nigerians to hold Governor Ganduje and his APC administration responsible for the development in Kano State which had worsened due to the failure of both Kano state and the Federal Government to promptly investigate and contain the situation. Consequently, the PDP charged President Buhari to immediately wade in and arrest the situation in Kano without any further delay.

The prominent persons, who died in Kano on penultimate Saturday alone are Prof Ibrahim Ayagi, Dr. Musa Umar Gwarzo, Mr Dahiru Rabiu (former Grand Khadi), Mr Musa Tijjani (ex-Editor of Triumph Newspaper) and Mr Adamu Isyaku Dal, who was a former Executive Secretary of the State Universal Basic Education Board.

Others are Mr Salisu Lado, Mrs Shamsiyya Mustapha, Mrs Nene Umma, Mr Garba Sarki Fagge, Dr. Nasiru Maikano Bichi, Secretary Student Affairs, North West University and Prof. Aliyu Umar Dikko of Physiology Department, Bayero University Kano.

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