Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Lately, the gloom that hung over the ancient city of Kano, following the spike in the number of deaths of largely elderly people in the state, is gradually fading away. Although there are still hovering fears and anxieties over the COVID-19 pandemic and its speedy spread within the communities, gradually the harvest of tears of the past few weeks, are drying up, giving way to near- normal state of affairs.
Daily statistics of fresh positive cases of COVID-19 in the city, compared to the same statistics last month, indicated that there is a tentative curve-down in the transmission of the disease. Daily records as provided by the Ministry of Health in its official handle, showed that Kano State had far fewer positive cases of COVID-19 than it had had at the beginning of the month or weeks before then.
A peep into these details showed there were five infections on Wednesday, May 20; zero infection on Tuesday, May 19; 17 infections on May 18; 64 confirmed cases on May 16 and eight cases on the May 15, 2020.
To many, this gradual stepping down in the number of positive cases is a huge relief from the frightening situation of the past few weeks.
Narratives from official and unofficial sources confirmed that there is a progressive improvement in the state of affairs with regard to all the trajectories of the management of the pandemic in the state. A week ago, Minister of Health, Prof Osagie Ehanire, said the situation in Kano State had stabilised.
He attributed the success to the efforts of both the state and federal governments. He said the number of samples tested in the state has improved considerably well while adding that all the laboratories for the test are functional.
A number of stakeholders also confirmed that the “mass deaths in the state” has dropped drastically. Some cemetery workers said the spike has dropped considerably well. They based their claims on the number of indicators but mainly on the number of graves they presently dig per day, compared to the peak period of deaths when they were overburdened by grave digging offers and exercises.
Alhaji Salisu Dandolo, who digs graves in most of the cemeteries such as Dandolo Cemetery and Farm Centre Cemetery, explained that the situation was under control now:
“Yesterday (Monday), I dug only two graves. As I am speaking to you now, 3: 48pm, I have not dug any grave. These days, some days, you dig one, two or three graves, but on some other days, you don’t even have an offer to dig any grave. That is the way it is presently.”
His view was collaborated by his colleague, Alhaji Sanusi Garba Shafedi. For years, he has been digging graves at Farm Center and Dandole Cemeteries. He explained that at the peak of the spike, they used to dig between 12 and 18 graves per day in both cemeteries. He said the number of deaths appeared to be dropping as they only dig between seven and eight graves per day.
How the game was scaled up
There are many theories that attempted to answer the question as to what went wrong in the management of COVID-19 and what was responsible for the surge in deaths of older people in Kano State.
Government is presently investigating these deaths while three female doctors, Mariam Nasir, Zainab Mahmoud and Khadijat Rufai, embarked on their fact-finding. Some measures were adopted by government to tackle the challenges and bring down the curve.
Daily Sun investigation indicated that the resumption of the testing laboratories has assisted in cleaning up some of these communities where transmission was prevalent. The state has three laboratory centres and could at present undertake as hundreds of tests in a day.
Another step is the gradual resumption of full medical services after a wave of shock that sacred off a number of medical workers from their duty posts.
One of infectious disease experts, deployed by the Federal Government to the state, Dr Kenny Iraoyah, said: “The story about people dying in
Kano State, would have to change as medical workers are better prepared to handle the challenges of COVID-19.” He was speaking after a capacity workshop organized for doctors on COVID-19.
The doctor deployed from Irrua Specialists Hospital, Edo State, said:
“Fears have been doused. Prior to our coming here, there were only doing some works. I think that the commitment needed to be stepped up in the minds of health workers. A lot of them were not properly equipped with information and knowledge wise and that impacted on their work and some of the doctors got infected and that had a ripple effect on their outputs, some had to withdraw back.
“There were not enough persons to see patients anymore. It actually impacted negatively on their outcome. We have to reinforce the need to first all conquer fear, that everybody cannot abandon the patients because of fear. So we had to reinforce their confidence, give them information and where they have knowledge gaps, those gaps were addressed and they were ready to go the field.”
A proprietor of a medical facility said the stability was occasioned by the early removal of suspected cases from the affected communities.
All credit to the increase in the number of testing laboratories and sample collection points in the state.
He said although the deaths in the state could not be entirely attributed to COVID- 19, the drop showed after many things have been rightly put in place shows that what was experienced in those days was a reflection of the presence of the disease. He was happy that the authorities, federal and state, realised in good time that there was an emergency situation and acted with dispatch, thereby saving the state of the agony of these deaths.
He appealed to the people to observe the protocols on COVID-19 with diligence: “From what we have seen elsewhere, many countries and towns including Wuhan in China, have exited from the high rate of fatalities.”