Kano recorded a high number of confirmed COVID-19 cases because of its densely populated nature, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said.
Mr Ihekweazu, while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19, on Monday, said the number of cases recorded in the state within thAT period is not a surprise.
“I will like to remind everyone that during a pandemic, the risk of spread is in those towns where the population density is highest.
“We are all aware of the population density in Kano. The high number of cases we are now seeing in Kano is really not a surprise,” he said.
Since reporting its index case about two weeks ago, Kano has been the centre of controversies ranging from the rapid increase in number of confirmed cases, ‘mysterious deaths’ and the sudden halt of its only testing centre.
Kano, which currently stands as the third hardest-hit state in Nigeria, has so far reported 77 cases out of the 1,273 in Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES, on Wednesday, reported how a member of Kano Task Force on COVID-19, Isa Abubakar, said the NCDC’s COVID-19 testing centre in Kano suspended its operation due to shortage of testing kits.
On Thursday, Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said the centre was temporarily closed because some staff of the laboratory were reportedly infected with COVID-19. He also admitted that the centre ran short of some testing reagents.
Mr Ehanire, however, said the testing materials had been made available and the centre will resume operations on today.
At the briefing, Mr Ihekweazu said the team did everything possible to immediately activate the Kano laboratory, “but sometimes speed also has consequences.”
“So we had to pause and shut the lab for the safety of workers at the laboratory,” he said.
He said the laboratory, which is domiciled at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and will be attending to cases from many northern states, will start testing samples today.
“I’m happy to announce that the Kano lab will start working this afternoon and start testing samples again as it should be.
”This has not been an easy effort by any stretch of imagination. It has taken the collective effort of my team, the laboratory scientists in Kano and many people that have quietly worked on this to make it happen.
”We will not stop until the laboratory is fully functional again,” he said.
The NCDC boss noted that there are concerns about the “happenings in Kano and efforts are being made to address the issues”.
“We want to address the Kano issue headlong. We are very concerned about what is happening in the state.
“But there is no magic bullet. We will continue to work hard,” he said
There was anxiety in the ancient city after the deaths of 12 prominent people within two days. There have also been reports of dozens of unexplained deaths in the city.
It is, however, uncertain if these deaths are COVID-19 related as majority had already been promptly buried with residents saying some exhibited symptoms of the disease.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has initiated an investigation into the deaths.
Earlier, Mr Ehanire said a fact-finding team will visit the state to find out how the state’s ministry of health can be supported to improve on surveillance, case finding, contact tracing and isolation.