Kano State confirmed its first Covid-19 case on April 11, 2020. However as of April 26, the state already had 77 confirmed cases and became third on the log in the country. Lagos is still the epicentre of Covid-19 with 731 cases followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with 141.
Also, according to report by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), till date 1273 cases have been confirmed, 239 cases have been discharged and 40 deaths so far have been recorded in 32 states and FCT.
Sadly, in the last one week, Kano state has recorded multiple deaths, with Sabitu Shaibu, deputy head of the state task force on COVID-19 putting the toll at 640. In the last two days, 12 prominent persons, including professors and a former editor of this newspaper’s Sunday title, Mallam Musa Tijani, had died.
There were concerns that the deaths could be as a result of Covid-19 but the state government has dismissed such claims. Accordingly, the commissioner of information, Muhammad Garba had asked residents not to panic “as government is on top of the situation and the mystery or whatever it is will soon be unravelled”. He attributed the cause of the mysterious and sudden deaths to hypertension, acute malaria, diabetes, among others.
As a newspaper, we find extremely worrisome the rapidly increasing cases of Covid -19 and the sudden unexplained deaths in Kano. In our considered opinion, the state government has not been proactive enough. When states like Kaduna which shares boundaries with Kano recorded cases and had declared a lockdown, we expected Kano to follow suit as a preventive measure. Unfortunately, the reverse was the case. And the price of that seeming negligence or failure to be proactive is what is going on now.
Regrettably, amid the spread of the killer virus and the frightening mysterious deaths in the state, a video surfaced last week where thousands were seen clustering as they watched a football match with the tournament titled Corona Cup. We find it disturbing that most residents in the state don’t believe the reality of the existence of Covid -19, no thanks to the antics of political and religious leaders in the state. The so called football match even when major sport activities across the globe have been put in abeyance was proof that many Nigerians still live in denial as far as Covid -19 pandemic is concerned.
A member of Kano Covid-19 taskforce, Prof Sadiq Isah, had explained that testing was suspended in Kano centre because they lacked some basic items. He also said that all suspected cases would be transported to Abuja for testing before announcing the result. This is agonizing and not good enough.
The State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has expressed concern that the coronavirus situation in his state is ‘really bad and scary’. In an interview with BBC Hausa, Ganduje said the closure of the testing centre is a major problem in the state’s fight against the disease. «This laboratory suspended its operation five or six days ago. There is also a shortage of sample collection equipment. «It is not a common equipment that you can go and buy in the market. Those whose samples were collected are still waiting to know their fate,» he said. The governor said officials of the task force especially the director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, and the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, were aware of the state’s problems.
It is, however, gratifying to note that the founder of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu has donated a whopping N3.3 billion to the fight against the coronavirus through the BUA Foundation. In a statement, Rabiu said the donation would be in addition to the N1 billion initially donated through the private sector coalition against Covid-19 (CACovid).
In view of the foregoing, we call on the federal government to give Kano the much needed attention it deserves. As a matter of urgency, testing should resume and the testing centres in the state should be increased so that more tests can be carried out faster. Also, the state government should muster the political will to enforce lockdown and take other necessary measures to curb the spread of the disease in the state. The Governor should urgently impress it upon religious leaders in the state to sensitize their followers on the severity of the pandemic which is capable of turning the state into one huge graveyard.
Again, the state government needs to carry out investigations into the strange deaths in the state. The alarming death toll from the unknown disease in just a few days’ calls for serious concern and the state must unravel that mystery without delay.