Nigeria: Govt Says Kano Mass Deaths Not Extra-Ordinary

(file photo).
29 April 2020

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, says the "authorities" have explained that the "unexplained deaths" of hundreds of people in Kano State were not out of the ordinary.

Ehanire, at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja yesterday, said: "There's national concern about the sharp increase of COVID-19 positive cases in Kano concentrated in seven municipal council areas and also about certain so-called 'unexplained' deaths. The authorities have explained that the latter were not out of the ordinary."

He said the Federal Government would deploy ambulances and a fact-finding committee to Kano State to ascertain the true extent of the effect of the COVID-19 in the state as well as to improve the state's efforts in fighting the spread of the disease.

He said the announcement of new measures for non-pharmacological intervention by President Buhari would allow the ministry additional time for contact tracing and testing.

Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said they would test two million Nigerians for COVID-19 in three months at 50,000 per state.

He admitted Nigeria was lagging behind in testing, stressing that the response team's goal was to avoid a single case in any of the three states (Cross Rivers, Kogi and Yobe) still without any reported case of COVID-19.

He said the Federal Government was working very hard with its development partners to equip labs to be able to carry out the tests.

"It's going to cost us a lot of money, but we can't do this without a lot of collaboration from everybody. A country that has achieved a lot more in terms of testing is South Africa. Not only that, they've tested more as a proportion of their population.

"We're lagging behind, but now we have to catch up. So, when I referred to this, it is really an epidemiological indicator of how well a response is doing.

"Coronavirus is now in 32 states across Nigeria, it doesn't fly about on its own from state to state; it's carried by humans. We seek to limit transmission in Nigeria by discouraging interstate travel."

He said the molecular laboratory at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, had been re-opened and was already carrying out tests on COVID-19.

The Minister of Health, Ehanire, disclosed that the 15-member medical team from China who recently completed their compulsory 14-day quarantine had all tested negative for the COVID-19 virus.

He said the Nigerian Army had agreed to support isolation centres with security "as the need arises."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the first set of Nigerians abroad would be evacuated next Monday from Dubai.

He said most hotels in Abuja and Lagos had refused the offer to be used as quarantine centres for Nigerian returnees abroad.

"We've been able now to identify some hotels here in Abuja and also in Lagos.These hotels want to be paid way in advance. Arrangement is that the passengers (Nigerian evacuees) will have to pay for them, and so, that mechanism is something that we'll have to work out," he said.

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