Coronavirus pandemic is the cause of the so-called mysterious deaths in Kano, northern Nigeria’s economic hub and largest city, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said on Sunday.
The preliminary report of the panel working to unravel the cause of the deaths established this, leader of the team, Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, said.
He spoke to reporters in Kano after the donation of mobile testing laboratory facilities by the Aliko Dangote Foundation to the state government.
Dr. Gwarzio explained that the verbal autopsies and tests carried out established without doubt that COVID-19 caused the deaths.
The Kano State government had repeatedly said the deaths were not coronavirus- related. It attributed the deaths to “mysterious causes” which it said would be investigated.
Gwarzo said: ‘’with the preliminary report, most of the deaths recorded of recent and tests carried out indicated that coronavirus is the cause. Hence, before the final reports which would be ready in the next one week or few days, it is necessary for people of the state to wake up from their slumber that this is a serious issue at hand. ‘’
He added: “We have five cogent reasons to say that the mass deaths recorded in Kano is associated with Coronavirus.”
He said a look at the age of the deceased persons, Concentration of the people in one place and tests that were carried out, showed evidence of COVID-19.
Dr Gwarzo expressed disgust over the attitude of Kano residents to the fight against COVID-19
He wondered why many residents in Kano are exhibiting nonchalant attitude to laid down rules in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Gwarzo said “awareness is our main problem until when Kano people are ready to accept the reality that COVID 19 is real then we have a long way to go because most of the residents are yet to believe in the seriousness of the pandemic. Until they take precautionary measures against the spread of the disease through community transmission.
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“The Presidential Task Force is here to support the state team. We are not re-inventing the wheel and we are not creating a parallel structure, we only have instructions from the Federal government to come and assist by working with the team.
“We don’t look at problems as shortcoming but we look at them as challenges. That is why the Presidential Task force is here to resolve these challenges.
“The major challenges we have I can assure you is not from the government of Kano, it is from the people of Kano, they must have understanding, they must have the clear appreciation of the magnitude and trajectory of the epidemic otherwise if they don’t, whatever is invested will come to a difficult end.”
Gwarzo who is the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health said: “We have six centres that are ready to take the upsurge. In the next 48hours, Kano will have a new 500 space capacity. In the next 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.”
Commenting on mass death in Kano, Gwarzo said there are three studies that are going on the results will be giving an idea very soon and now we are getting clearer on the causes of death and we will tell you people very shortly when the test are done we shall give you very clear pictures of the outcome of the result.
On testing, he said: “Here in Kano, we have about three centres, one has the capacity of 180 samples and another 80. It is 260 and with the Dangote Foundation bringing another new Mobile Testing Laboratory Centre in the state with 400 samples capacity there will be tremendous improvement.
“It will now reach about 660 within the possible time and that will not be enough and since they said within one week it will accommodate one thousand samples; that will make us to get out of this problem.
“Within no time you will see other states will be bringing their samples here in Kano and that will further ginger us to further expand our scope to achieve maximally.
“No country in the whole world will say that she is free of the virus we have to be proactive in expanding and providing sophisticated equipment that could enable us to be ahead of COVID 19 and if we relent the end result will be destructive.”
Between April 25 and last week, Kano lost many prominent men and women under mysterious circumstances.
Among them are father of Dr. Sani Aliyu, the PTF National Coordinator, Aliyu Daneji, a former National Economic Intelligence Committee Chairman, Prof. Ibrahim Ayagi, former executive secretary of the state Universal basic Education, Adamu Dali, and a former Editor of Triumph newspapers Musa Tijjani.
Others are: Garba Dambatta, a former Kannywood artist, Ado Gwanga, Dr. Saba Kurawa, Prof. Balarabe Maikaba, Malama Shittu, Dr. Uba Adamu, Alhaji Salihu Ado, Aminu Yahya, Hamma Akilu, Tijani Yola, Uztaz Rabiu, Dr. Ghali Kabir and Prof. Aliyu Dikko.