From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
if the recent statistics is anything to go by, COVID-19 is fully back in Kano State. And as medical experts reported, not only is the current wave three times higher than it was in the past, it is more fatal.
At least, 24 patients died of complications occasioned by the virus since November 30, 2020. Others with perhaps higher figure and who may not have been captured, are out there transmitting the virus.
To make a discomfiting situation worse, many residents live in denial and do not believe that the virus is capable of constituting a fatal threat to their lives. As a result, many disregard the use of face masks in public places and many more do not maintain, practice or adhere to the recommended two-metre social distancing.
It is on account of this note that government resorted to the establishment of the COVID-19 Marshals. They are to drive home the campaign to the people to stay safe.
On Sunday, the marshals, who are all graduates of Hygiene and other related disciplines, adorned their attractive uniforms at inauguration. They were charged by Governor Umar Ganduje to find their way to the nooks and crannies of the state with a view to sensitizing the public on the prevalence of the virus and the need to stay safe:
“This time around, many people are dying and we cannot continue to watch the virus spread. To defeat the virus once again, the people must take adequate measures to halt its spread in their respective communities and domains.”
Coordinator, Technical Response Team on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Husseni, explained that there was no other better time than the present moment to set up the marshals. He disclosed that 77 people died since the outbreak of the virus in the state while 340 confirmed cases were undergoing treatment at various facilities.
He added that the state tested over 44,000 cases, with 2,952 of them returning positive. He admitted that there was an escalation of the positive ratio of the virus, saying that the state was currently recording a higher number of infections than in the past:
“From December 2020 to January 2021, we recorded 23 deaths. We have also seen an increase in severity of cases and the number of people who demand for oxygen in our isolation centres is much higher than we were recording earlier. This calls for caution, this calls for the adherence of all the advisories issued by public health officials.”
Commissioner for Information and member, State Task Force on COVID-19, Mohammed Garba, told Daily Sun: “If you look at the analysis by the Rapid Response Team, you will see how it started last year, how we were able to contain it to the extent where it was we have no patient and then between November and December, we started gradually seeing the case rising up again.
“In December, it was coming up higher. And in January, it became terrible. In the past, we used to have about three positives, but now in each 100, we are talking about 10 positive cases. That is worrisome. And government felt we must go back to the drawing board.
“At the end of it all, we are talking about enforcement. How do we enforce? We don’t want to force people at this material time. At the beginning, it is just to sensitize. That is why the governor felt that we should have people who should go round and sensitizing people, instead of beating and forcing people.
“The marshals would go-round with their sanitizers and they would be giving out face masks, moving to all the shopping malls and stores in the market, moving from house to house. We have women among them and wherever they see people who are in breach of the protocols, they would try as much as possible to advice them.
“In most of these shops, they would ensure that they have water at the entrance, to ensure that any customer coming to buy puts on his face masks. It is easier for the marshals as we move to directly sensitize the people.
“Then gradually, as we move, the governor has said it, courts will be established. And that is when government will force people. If you violate any of the protocol, you can be prosecuted. We are doing this thing stage by stage.”