The Federal Government on Tuesday said it was worried by the rising cases of COVID-19 in Kano State.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, who said this in Abuja at a media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the Federal Government would increase its support for the highly populated state to stop the spread of the virus.
Also, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, at the briefing, said the task force was concerned about the increasing cases of the virus in the state.
He also commented on the recent multiple deaths in the state, which the state government on Monday said it was investigating.
Besides, some residents, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said they were disturbed by the upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the state, which was free of the virus last month.
Kano State recorded its first COVID-19 case on April 11 when a retired ambassador, who had gone on a trip to the United Kingdom, was diagnosed with the virus.
The cases shot up to 59 on Monday as 23 more persons were infected with the virus, whose spread was hastened by the index case, who was reported to have attended a Jumat prayer in Kano.
Also, reports of recent increasing deaths in the state have worsened fear that cases of the virus in the highly populated state may be higher than what is being reported.
Like Lagos, we are worried about Kano —Minister
But at the PTF press briefing, Mamora expressed worry about coronavirus cases in Kano State.
He stated that the population density of Kano could be compared to Lagos, which is the epicentre of the virus in the country.
He said, “Part of what we will do is to increase the support for Kano. Kano and Lagos have the highest population and, naturally, we would be worried.
“What Lagos has is also what Kano has in terms of population, the density of population and activities, commercial and otherwise. So, we will need to do more of contact tracing, where we can, testing, isolation, and treatment.”
On his part, PTF coordinator, Aliyu said the Federal Government and the PTF had noted the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state. He said the task force was working with the state government to tackle the surge.
He said, “We are closely monitoring Kano, Osun, Oyo and Edo states. We note with particular concern, Kano State and we have engaged closely with the state government. (But) because we are increasing the number of tests as we ramp up, we are likely to have increase in the number of cases.”
PTF speaks on Kano deaths
Also, the PTF said the state government had set up a team to investigate the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.
The PTF coordinator said the task force had been working closely with the state authorities in Kano. He added, “There is a possibility that we will continue to have more cases coming in as we increase the number of tests.
A journalist asked for Aliyu’s comment on multiple deaths and reports of mass burial in Kano.
Responding he said, “Over the weekend, we engaged directly with the state governor and, virtually, over the last two days, I have been talking to people in Kano to find out what is going on.
“It’s not very clear whether the reports we are getting are actually factual or not. But they (Kano State Government) have set up a team that will be investigating this further.
“In terms of what we are doing from the Abuja side, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control made an on-the-spot assessment yesterday. He just left Kano today (Tuesday).”
The national coordinator said the PTF had sent Rapid Response Teams to Kano, adding that the task force continued to engage with the government in terms of testing.
“The test centre in Kano started last week. We are also looking at opening more centres for taking samples so that we can increase the number of tests and also improve the efficiency of contact tracing.”
Aliyu urged Nigerians to use face masks in addition to the routine measures of physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and personal hygiene.
Why testing figure is low – FG
At the briefing, Mamora said Nigeria had not tested a huge number of people for COVID-19 because the testing method being used was not meant for mass testing.
On Sunday, www.worldometers.info reported that Egypt with 3,032 cases had carried out 55,000 tests out of a population of 101,950,919, while Ghana with 834 cases had tested 60,916 of its 30,943,761 population.
On the other hand, Nigeria as of 7pm on Tuesday had tested 8,000 people out of its 200 million population.
But Mamora said that Nigeria used polymerase chain reaction-based testing kit and not the rapid test kit. According to him, the rapid test kit has not been approved by the WHO and that there can be marginal errors in using the kit.
He said, “The limitation we have is that more laboratories are being opened because the PCR-based testing method that we use may not give us the mass testing that we really require. We are limited because we are not using the rapid test kit because it has not been certified by the WHO. We take it as a challenge that the NCDC is working on.
“Recall that we started with five laboratories and now we have 13 PCR-based laboratories. I also recall that the Director General of the NCDC has said the challenge now is to have people coming out for testing. In spite of 13 laboratories we have for testing in Nigeria, we can test more (than we do now) if people show up to be tested.”
Mamora, however, said that recent innovation and strategies meant that more people would be tested as Nigeria moved into community transmission of the virus.
Health workers will be tested
The minister also noted that part of the protocol in the management of COVID-19 cases was that health workers in the forefront would undergo testing.
He said, “Testing for health workers will be routine and as indicated, if any health worker comes up with symptoms that are suggesting, that health worker will be tested. If any health worker has come in contact with any case, that health worker will have to go into self-isolation. What we are doing is to ensure that health workers are properly protected so that they are not unduly exposed. It is the minimum we owe them.”
The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, noted members were touring some states to assess their infrastructure and their readiness for COVID-19.
According to him, the NCDC director general and a WHO representative have visited Imo, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Katsina, and Kano. “Three more states will be covered by Wednesday (today),” he added.
Mustapha added that the PTF had approved the distribution of medical equipment and consumables to states.
While speaking on local inventions, he said products could not be mass produced until they were licensed.
According to the SGF, one does not invent a machine and put it to use immediately the same day, especially when dealing with a life-and-death situation.
Panel report on lockdown for Buhari not ready
Mustapha said the panel report on lockdown and possible reopening was not ready.
According to him, it is important to use the lockdown to prepare the affected states and the Federal Capital Territory to deal with the virus. He stated that an assessment of the states was being carried out.
He said, “We are in the fourth week of the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory and the PTF continues to assess the impact vis-à-vis the objectives.
“While the PTF continues to assess the impact of the lockdown preparatory to the submission of a report to Mr President, we have observed general compliance with the restrictions.”
Ganduje begs FG for help
As the Federal Government stepped up efforts to curb COVID-19 in Kano, the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on Tuesday called for more testing centres in the state.
The governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, by Abba Anwar, made the call when the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, visited him at the Government House in Kano.
He stated, “We need additional testing centres in the state. We need vehicles and protection kits. We need coordination. We need rapid responses and we need palliative.
“Kano is the third on the list of states with a high number of COVID-19 cases and is the most populated state in the federation. We, therefore, need financial support from the Federal Government.”
Relatives attribute deaths to malaria-related ailment
In a related development, residents of Kano have explained the increase in deaths recorded in the city within the last three days.
Also some of the relatives of those who died attributed their deaths to a malaria-related ailment.
One of the residents and community leader, Alhaji Jafaru Gwarzo, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “Most of the places that have recorded high number of deaths are densely populated areas. So anybody that dies people will take the corpse to a nearby cemetery for burial due to the lockdown.
“So based on our findings, Abattoir cemetery in Fagge area recorded highest number of burials because it is near densely populated areas like Gwammaja, Yola and Kulkul.”
Another resident, Mallam Musa Maiyara, said the number of death recorded within the last three days in the metropolis was alarming.
He stated, “People who died were mostly buried in three major cemeteries in the city. This heightened fear of the residents that the deceased might have died as a result of a strange ailment.
Some families of the deceased, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the unusual deaths to an ailment related to malaria.
A resident said his father died as a result of malaria and was buried at the Abattoir cemetery on Saturday.
Another bereaved member of a family said he lost his mother, who had a fever on Friday and was buried at the same cemetery where some people who died as a result of similar ailment were buried.
A resident in Kano, Abdulmunini Giwa, attributed the COVID-19 fear in the state to its densely population.
Another resident, Musa Ado, said, “Kano, for instance, we are faced, with two major crises, health crisis arising from COVID-19 pandemic and hunger crisis, arising from the total lockdown.’’
As the most populous state in the country, Giwa noted that the population of the state was concentrated in the Kano municipal, comprising eight local government areas.
Kano cemetery records 70 burials in two days
The Nigerian Television Authority reported that in Koki Quarters alone, there had been more than 70 deaths in two days and most of the deceased were elderly people.
According to the report, a resident, Ayuba Haruna, said, “They brought a number of remains of people amounting to 70 into this cemetery.”
Another resident, Jamilu Yaro, who resided in the Tarauni area of the state, said 20 people were buried there. “In fact, the undertakers pleaded with us that the work was becoming too much for them,” he added.
Come for test, if you live in places where there are cases – NCDC tells Nigerians
The NCDC has said anybody who lives in a place where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 can get tested for the virus.
The agency, in a Twitter post on Tuesday, advised people to go for testing if they had fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
Two more patients die in Lagos
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday announced the death of two more COVID-19 patients, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the state to 16.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, via his twitter handle, @ProfAkinAbayomi said the deceased were aged 45 and 36.
He said, “One of the deceased was a 45-year-old Nigerian; male who returned from India in January, 2020.
“The second death involved a 36-year-old Nigerian; female with severe underlying health condition. She had no history of travel or contact with any #COVID19 confirmed case.”
Contact with COVID-19 victim traced to Borno IDP camp
The Borno Government has traced one of the persons, who had contact with the index COVID-19 case in the state, to one of the internally displaced persons’ camp.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, the state Deputy Governor and Chairman of the COVID-19 High Powered Response Team, Alhaji Umar Kadafur, said one of the 104 persons believed to have had contact with the index case was traced to Bakasi IDPs camp in the centre of Maiduguri.
Another WHO worker tests positive
A worker of the WHO, Bauchi State Office has tested positive for coronavirus, The PUNCH reports.
The PUNCH reports that this brings the total number of current active cases in the state to three. Two are from the WHO.
The Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed, confirmed the new case to The PUNCH in a telephone interview.