The federal government said yesterday that investigation and verbal autopsy have revealed that between 50 and 60 per cent of the 979 people that died in Kano within five weeks were killed by COVID-19. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this in Abuja at the 41st joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
He said investigation carried out by the special team sent to the state revealed that 50 to 60 per cent of the deaths were associated with coronavirus, adding that most of the fatalities were over 65 years of age.
This meant that no fewer than 587 people died of COVID-19 in Kano and therefore more than the 354 deaths recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) based on the Monday’s record of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). NCDC was yet to reflect the 587 deaths in its official statistics, which showed that 48 people died of the disease in Kano as of June 8.
The health minister commended members of the team sent to Kano led by Dr. Gwarzo and Prof. Nasidi, including the contingent from Irrua for diligently carrying out the assignment. There was an outrage over the high number of deaths, with notable individuals dying in Kano, Jigawa and some other states. Authorities in some of the states had lived in denial for weeks prompting the federal government to send experts to unravel the mystery.
Explaining how the FG arrived at the figures in Kano, he said, “With regards to the unexplained deaths, which occurred in Kano over a five-week period, the team confirmed that a total of 979 deaths were actually recorded in eight municipal local government areas in the state and at a time at the rate of 43 deaths per day as measured by counting activities at the graveyard.
“The peak was in the second week of April and by the end of April, the numbers had started to reduce and have finally now settled at 11 deaths per day, which were about what it was before”.
The minister said that the verbal autopsy (interviews with relations of the deceased) revealed that about 56 per cent of the deaths occurred at home while 38 per cent were in the hospital. “The investigation suggests that 50 percent to 60 percent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19.”
He expressed gratitude to Governor Umar Ganduje for his support to the team throughout the assignment saying they all returned safely and had no incident of contracting the virus. Cross-view of Galadima road in Kano’s business area, after the state government relaxed the lock down on markets in Kano Scary days of COVID-19 infection in Kano
It will be recalled that at the height of the spread of the coronavirus, many health workers avoided hospitals especially when some of their colleagues contracted the COVID-19, while trying to attend to patients, including those with underlying ailments. Along the line, many people suffering from hypertension, diabetes, heart and kidney problems and other diseases found it difficult to access medication.
The minister said yesterday that with the observation and recommendations of the three-week assignment, the committee developed strategic incident management and coordination plan to strengthen the capacity of the health workers and improve community engagement.
“The healthcare workers in Kano and the northern part of our country had become very jittery at the advent of coronavirus and had stopped or slowed down attending to other patients, which led to complications in the health delivery. “Many of them have become infected.
Over 150 health workers were infected at the time of the arrival of the team. “After they conducted their training on infection prevention and control, there was no report on the infection recorded among the health workers. This way, their confidence was restored and service was also restored in essential and routine case and COVID-19 management”.
Efforts to speak with Dr. Gwarzo and Prof. Nasidi to shade more light on what they discovered in Kano were not successful. While Gwarzo’s number was not going through, Nasidi asked one of our reporters to call back much later. How Kano overtake other states As of Monday, Kano was the second state with the highest no of COVID-19 cases totalling 999 confirmed cases.
Four hundred and fifty persons have been discharged while 501 persons were on admission in the state as of yesterday. Experts believed that authorities in Kano were initially reluctant in taking serious measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Kano closed its borders and ban interstate traveling in and out of the state on Friday, March 27, 2020. This was exactly one month Nigeria recorded its index case in Lagos. On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Kano recorded its index case of the COVID-19. And on Monday, April 13, 2020, two additional cases were recorded.
On Wednesday, April 15, the state announced 5 more cases recorded in the morning and in the evening of the same day, the NCDC announced 12 additional confirmed cases in Kano, which raised the number to 21. On that same day, the state announced its first fatality as a result of the dreaded disease
There was no comment from Kano as at the time of filing this report yesterday. It would be recalled that in April, emotions were high when it was reported that hundreds of people mysteriously died in Kano within few days. The Kano State ministry of health called for calm saying it had already launched an investigation to unravel the real cause of the deaths in the state.
A statement signed by the Information Officer of the ministry, Hadiza M. Namadi said, “The attention of Kano State ministry of health has been drawn to a post being circulated on social media platforms on purported death of number of people within two days and buried in some cemeteries within Kano metropolis. “
As the ministry could not immediately verify the veracity of the claim going round, the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, hereby assured the general public that investigation into the matter is ongoing to verify the claim and possible causes of the deaths.”
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