The Federal Government is worried stiff by the coronavirus situation in Kano State where the pandemic is spreading rapidly, according to officials of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“Kano State situation is not a simple thing to manage”, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said on Thursday.
To assist the state, PTF National Coordinator Dr. Sam Ajayi said additional laboratory apartment had been developed to help the state. These include “at least 17 persons including seven from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to Kano to deal with the current issues that have arisen.”
Both of them spoke at the daily briefing on COVID-19 by the PTF in Abuja yesterday.
Kano as at Friday last week had only 21 cases. The figure jumped to 73 as at Thursday.
The latest figure of new cases were being awaited last night.
Besides, the coronavirus cases, there were reports of “mass strange deaths” in the state where an estimated 152 people were reported buried in different cemeteries with the within three days last weekend.
The PTF said on Thursday it was investigating the death which the state government has denied.
The PTF coordinator said “the DG NCDC has asked the state emergency operating to reorganise the way it functions and a joint team from the state government is currently investigating the concerns with regards the deaths.”
Concerning the situation in Kano state, the NCDC boss said: “We need time. We have reports that there have been deaths. Our first line of action is to verify if it is true and what will be our next line of action if that is the case.
“We have a team that is working with the government of Kano state to verify the incident and make sure that what is going on is actually what is being reported. Then, we will carry out control measures and see if it is an infectious disease, COVID-19, or something else.
“Unlike Lagos that has a gradual increase in cases, the cases are really increasing rapidly in Kano state. Kano state situation is not a very simple thing to manage. We are working with them to increase the organisational efficiency of response. Also, the treatment centre in Kano state have a capacity of about 300.”
The PTF chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha explained that “The situation in Kano is still being assessed and monitored closely. Based on preliminary findings, the PTF has directed the NCDC to send an enhanced support team, mobilize resources for contact tracing and immediately ensure that necessary steps are taken in conjunction with state government to contain the spread of the pandemic in Kano and stop the city from becoming the next epicentre”.
Speaking on non-compliance to instructions by privately owned healthcare facilities, he said “the PTF views with some measure of concern the non-compliance by private medical facilities with the directive to seek accreditation before treating COVID-19 related cases.
“The highly infectious nature of COVID-19 if not well managed in purpose-built facilities and specialists, pose a lot of danger not just to the medical staff in such hospitals but also to other patients and loved ones at home. We therefore appeal strongly to operators of private medical facilities wishing to continue to treat COVID-19 cases to apply to the Federal Ministry of Health urgently, for accreditation”, he said.
He appealed to all Nigerians to continue obeying all the advisories issued so far to stay safe from the danger of contracting the dreaded disease, charging further that these were the times that all citizens need to show love and concern to each other, especially towards those categorised as the most vulnerable among the population.
“I encourage you to comply with all the advisories and to continue to be your brothers’ keeper especially given the unintended impact of the lockdown on the poor, the needy, the aged, the vulnerable, persons living with disabilities and the sick. This is the time to show the essence of the fear of God and love for humanity in us.
“ The PTF notes that the number of cases reported has risen to 873 across 25 states and the FCT with 197 discharges and 28 fatalities. I have mentioned these numbers in order to underscore the need for citizens to comply with advisories strictly so that we can slow down the spread of the virus. These advisories still remain the most effective way of flattening the curve.
“These issue of stigmatization still persists and it is counter-productive to our efforts. This disease does not discriminate on status, creed, tribe or colour and anybody can be infected.
“It is my humble appeal that once you are infected by this disease, you should immediately report to appropriate medical facilities in your own interest and the interest of your loved ones.