*Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s Minister of Health and member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire on Monday in Abuja disclosed that a total of 979 people died as a result of strange illnesses in Kano State over a five-week period. He made the disclosure at the regular press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. The committee is chaired by the Secretary to the State Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
The minister also revealed that an investigation carried out by the special team sent to the state during the public uproar revealed that 50 to 60 per cent of the deaths were associated with the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He however explained that most of the fatalities were over 65 years old. He also stated that more than half of the deaths occurred at home.
Ehanire said, “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 in line with our response plan. The healthcare workers in Kano and the northern part of our country had become very jittery at the advent of coronavirus disease 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 management and also COVID-19 management.”
Breaking down the stories of the unexplained deaths, which made headlines in the early days of the lockdown added, “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 have started to reduce and have finally now settled at eleven deaths per day, which were about what it was before. The verbal autopsy 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 per cent to 60 per cent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19,” Ehanire said.