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FG Links 587 of Kano’s Unexplained Deaths to COVID-19 Pandemic



Olawale Ajimotokan, Kingsley Nwezeh, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Chinedu Eze and Martins Ifijeh in Lagos

The federal government yesterday linked the death of about 587 out of the 979 people who died under controversial circumstances in Kano State in April to COVID-19. The figure represents 60 per cent of the fatality data.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the data during the briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja hours before the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gave its daily update on the battle against COVID-19, saying Nigeria has recorded 315 new cases, bringing to 12,801 the number of confirmed cases in the country with 4,040 persons discharged, while 361 persons have died.

In a breakdown of the new cases, NCDC said Lagos recorded 128 new cases, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 34, Rivers 32, Edo 28, Oyo 22, Kaduna 20, Gombe 13, Ogun eight, Kwara and Delta seven each, Plateau and Kano five each, Bauchi four, and Katsina two.

It said: “Nigeria has recorded 12,801 cases of COVID-19. 4,040 persons have been discharged while 361 persons have died.”

A preliminary research, however, has shown that 70 per cent of persons infected with the virus do not pass it on to others.

Speaking yesterday on the report of the federal government’s fact-finding team sent to Kano State to investigate the strange deaths in the state, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, told journalists during the briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja that the final report showed that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal councils in the state at the rate of 43 deaths per day.

He said: “With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano, which occurred in April, the team confirmed from graveyard records that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal local governments areas of the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, with a peak in the second week of April. By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to 11 deaths per day it used to be.”

He explained that the verbal autopsy carried out showed that about 56 per cent of the deaths had occurred at home, while 38 per cent were in the hospital.

“With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50-60 per cent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments. Most fatalities were over 65 years of age,” he said.

Ehanire added that over 150 health workers have been infected at the time of the arrival of the medical team.

He, however, said there was no report of an infection among health workers who had received training from the team on infection prevention and control.

“It is gratifying to note that they all returned safely and had no incident of contracting the infection,” he stated.

The minister also spoke on the milestones reached within 100 days of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, saying over 76,800 persons have been tested.

The minister said since the country began more aggressive tracking and testing, it had increased its laboratory network capacity from five to 30 molecular laboratories, with a plan for at least one laboratory in every state.

On plans to develop health policy guidelines for the aged, the minister said two webinar meetings were held on June 3 and 4 on the effect of COVID-19 on health and care management of the elderly.

He said the meeting was conducted in collaboration with the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), and it took a critical look at various aspects of the impact of the disease on the elderly, who are usually at higher risk of infection.

“The outcome of the webinar provides grounds for policy direction for care of the elderly during and beyond COVID-19. The general recommendation is that senior citizens are vulnerable and should stay at home most times and wear a mask once outside their home,” he stated.

70% of Infected Persons Can’t Infect Others, Says Report

A preliminary research has shown that 70 per cent of persons infected with COVID-19 do not pass the virus on to others.

The study also showed that most 20 per cent of infected persons are the super-spreaders of the high incidence of the virus seen across the world.

The study conducted by a group of epidemiologists in Hong Kong found that just 20 per cent of cases studied were responsible for 80 per cent of all COVID-19 transmissions, noting that all super-spreading events involved indoor social gatherings.

The epidemiologists examined more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong between January 23 and April 28, and they found out that super-spreading was the primary means of transmission in the city.

‘The term ‘super-spreader’ refers to an infected person who transmits the virus to more people than a typical infected person would.

The research noted that about 350 of the cases analysed were a result of community spread, while the rest were imported from other countries, adding that within the community-spread cases, more than half were connected to six super-spreading events.

“An average person with the coronavirus infects about two other people, but an infected person sometimes passes the virus to far more people during a super-spreader event. An estimated 70 per cent of infected patients studied didn’t pass the virus at all.

“By targeting locations and activities that beget super-spreading, countries may be able to avoid more lockdowns during future waves of infections. Super-spreader events, in which one person infects a disproportionately large number of others, are the primary means by which the coronavirus spreads, new research suggests,” the report said.

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