Recorded cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have continued to increase and nearing 3,000 as of Wednesday, May 6. Amid this was a report of the death of over 500 residents of Kano that shook the country. Almost everyone thinks it is linked to the pandemic. But the State government said preliminary investigations into the unexplained deaths showed many victims died from malaria and Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM). Many of the victims also had underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, among others sicknesses, the official added.
Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday, also told the House of Representatives that there is no evidence yet that the “mysterious deaths” in Kano were caused by COVID-19, as he said investigation into the deaths was ongoing.
However, an address on Sunday by the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Kano, Sani Gwarzo, suggested that COVID-19 was the cause of the deaths.
“Let me inform us that most of the deaths recorded of recent and tests carried out showed that Coronavirus was the cause,” TheCable newspaper quoted Gwarzo to have said.
“So, before the final report which will be ready in the next one week or few days, it is necessary for the people of Kano to wake up from their slumber that this is a serious issue.”
We seriously and honestly await the report of the findings into the deaths that took the lives of people in their hundreds within a short period. But, while we wait, Yobe has recorded the death of over 155 residents, causing panic, according to Sahara Reporters.
Between April 30 and May 5, 98 people died in Potiskum, the report says. “In Gashua town, at least 57 have died. Those dying are mostly elders, yet the state Committee on COVID-19 is sleeping in Damaturu as if nothing is happening,” it continues. And the governor seems to be oblivious of the happenings in his state.
No doubt, there are other silent killers in Nigeria including poverty, malaria, child mortality, diabetes, etc and we seem to have driven our attention away from all these to COVID-19. However, our conversation on putting an end to all these will seem to be intensified, especially when we start recording mysterious deaths.
Possibly, like the government in Kano already mentioned, the deaths might be as a result of closed medical services to non-COVID-19 patients, and the deceased inability to receive proper medical care, but we need to be cautious.
We cannot throw away the possibility that the coronavirus is the new fast killer, while also paying attention to those other killers that take lives every other day in Nigeria.
The Yobe government is yet to respond to the report and, if truly these deaths happened within a short period, we hope there is no slow response to the deaths and findings on what really happened. And no, not ‘verbal autopsy.’