Desmond Mgboh, Kano
The Kano State investigative panel on unexplained deaths in the state has disclosed that 255 deaths in the state’s eight metropolitan areas have been as a result of COVID-19.
Presenting their report entitled “Verbal Autopsy Report” to the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje at the Government House in Kano, Tuesday evening, the Chairman of the Investigative Panel, Professor Murthar Gadanya, said that the number represented a total of 15.9 per cent of a total 1,604 cases of unexplained deaths investigated by the panel.
Outlining the structure of their research, Gadanya, who is the Head of the Department of Public Health, Community Medicine, at Bayero University Kano, explained that a total of 1,774 deaths were recorded in the affected local government areas between March 1 and May 2, saying the panel was able to interview relatives of the 1,604 cases.
According to their findings, some of the deaths may have been caused by medical and socio-economic disruptions occasioned by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease, citing the reluctance to use medical facilities due to fear of contracting the disease and other challenges associated with the pandemic lockdown.
Presenting a breakdown of the report, Prof Gadanya explained that 80 per cent of the deceased persons were male.
He further stated that 76 per cent of the deaths involved persons that were aged 50 and older, adding that Kano Municipal, Taurauni, Gwale and Taurani local government areas recorded the highest number of deaths among the local government areas that were investigated.
The panel recommended that the state government increase the number of holding centres in all secondary facilities in the state where suspected cases of COVID-19 would be admitted. They also suggested that the state government intensify the training of health care workers on the proper use of infection, prevention and control materials while encouraging members of the public to present themselves voluntarily for testing as a way to detect and curb the spread of the disease.
The panel also asked the government to initiate cemetery registers and community mortality registers to keep a record of deceased persons in the state.
In his remarks, Governor Ganduje commended the panel for a thorough job and said that the report has put to rest a number of speculations about the causes of death in the state.
The governor disputed the report of the Federal Ministry of Health Technical Committee on the numbers of deaths that could be linked to COVID-19 in the state, saying that their investigation lacked reliability and should, therefore, be discarded.
The governor said that the state’s report would be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, among other authorities.