From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
Even with its status as the most populous state in the country, Kano, to the surprise of many, has not recorded any single case of the Corona Virus pandemic. The reason for this feat is, however, not far-fetched considering the strong policy of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in the health sector, which he allocated about 15 per cent of the 2020 budget. The only blues of COVID-19 in Kano, so far, remains the three rumoured cases of the dreaded virus which were attended to and confirmed negative by health experts. Apart from that, the state has remained free from the dreaded virus which has continued to ravage the world.
The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa in a joint Press Conference with the Commissioner of Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, in his office said necessary sensitization measures are being put in place to ensure that Corona Virus does not infiltrate Kano. He also told journalists that Kano has already won the war against Lassa Fever as all patients who were taken to the Isolation Centre at Yar-gaya have all been treated and discharged.
According to him, the state government has taken the campaign against Corona Virus to all public institutions including schools, markets, places of worship, motor parks, airports and entry points across the state.
He also revealed that Ministries, paratatals and other government agencies across the state are also taken precautionary measures to screen visitors as equipment are provided to test visitors’ temperature, as well as ensuring that they wash their hands with sap and water.
Tsanyawa added that the Ministry has also continued to hold a series of meetings with stakeholders, including the business community and market leaders, sensitizing them on the need for self-protection.
He said the sensitizatiion campaign has been paying off, as most traders now provide soap and water for their customers before transacting business with them.
He listed other measures taken to ensure that Kano is Coronavirus-free to include conduct of State Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee Meeting, development of Incident Action Plan, activation of Rapid Response Team (RRT), re-activation of the Yar-gaya treatment centre. He further stated that, “moreover, Kano state government has further intensified COVID-19 surveillance in the state through engagement of traditional and religious institutions, training of health personnel in tertiary, secondary and primary healthcare facilities. Sensitization of traditional leaders, KAROTA, NATO, NURTW and organized private sector, production and airing of jingles, production and distribution of IEC materials, as well as, responding to rumoured COVID-19 suspected cases on daily basis, among other measures.” He called on Kano residents to disregard mere allegation and rumours on COVID-19, while commending Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for providing all necessary support and resources to contend with the fight against the deadly Corona Virus.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, urged residents to ensure regular and thorough hand washing with soap and running water, observe proper coughing/sneezing etiquettes, cover mouth and nose with handkerchief or tissue and disposed immediately after use.
He added that residents should maintain at least two metres distance between anyone who sneezes or coughs, avoid overcrowding, avoid travelling to countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 especially during the period of fasting and festivities.
The Commssioner also advised residents to avoid contact with suspected or confirmed cases or items soiled by affected persons, while promising that Kano state government will continue to take proactive measures to ensure that COVID-19 do not find its way into the most populous commercial state in the country.
To further ensure that the state remained COVID-19 free, Ganduje directed for the closure of public and private schools across the state as part of precautionary measures against the threat posed by the Corona virus.
According to a Statement signed by the state Commissioner for Education, Muhammad Sanusi Sa’idu Kiru, the indefinite vacation becomes effective from Monday, March 23, 2020. The Statement added that, “parents are to ensure that they evacuate their wards from boarding schools not later than Sunday.
The statement added that, “the move was part of conscious effort to prevent children and their teachers from becoming more vulnerable to the pandemic. The closure is not intended to create panic but a preventive measure in the face of threat posed by the disease across the globe.” The Statement urged parents to encourage their children to remain at home and observe high standards of personal hygiene.
On Sunday, Kano state government ensured successful evacuation of Exchange Students to their respective states. The state Ministry of Education successfully evacuated all the Exchange Students studying in Kano to their 17 Northern states. Their evacuation followed the urgent directives by the state government for the closure of all Public and Private schools operating in the state to prevent the threat for the spread of Corona Virus.
The Commissioner’ of Education, Malam Muhammad Sanusi Sa’id Kiru said that the evacuation of the exchange students was to comply with the government’s directives and also to ensure that the students were handed over to the relevant authorities of their states safely. He spoke through the chairman of the Committee for the Conveyance of the Exchange Students, Malam Falalu Sani.
Moreso, Ganduje has inaugurated Task Force Committee to battle the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. Ganduje has also ordered for the immediate upgrading of Kano’s Isolation Centre and installation of more equipment.
He also inspected Screening Facilities at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA). According to him, the drastic actions taken so far by the state government were for the purpose of redoubling efforts towards proactive response to COVID-19 in the state.
Recall that Ganduje recently inaugurated the COVID-19 Response Committee as part of strategies to institutionalize Rapid Response against the current globa COVID-19 situation.
The Inauguration which attracted many scholars and health experts from Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and other health institutions, alongside development partners, took place at Ante Chamber, Kano Government House.
Ganduje who described the Task Force as an all-important body, said its inauguration would pave way for the consolidation of the designed response in the state, assuring that the state government would do everything possible to support the Task Force for effective and efficient intervention.
He gave the Terms of Reference of the Task Force Committee to include assessing the present situation and the risk of COVID-19 in Kano state; coordinate the response of the state to the threat posed by it, through multi-disciplinary approach and inter-sectoral collaboration; and to also advise the government on necessary steps and decisions that should be taken to combat the threat of COVID-19. Other Terms according to Ganduje include Weekly briefing of His Excellency, the Executive Governor, and the State Executive Council on the situation on ground; coordinate resource mobilisation for the virus’s unwanting outbreak. Ganduje directed the Task Force Committee to liaise with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies at national and sub-national levels on response to the pandemic problem, among others.
The state Deputy Governor, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna is the Chairman of the Task Force Committee; Co-Chairman is Prof. Abdul-Razaq Garba Habib, Head of Infectious Disease Unit, from Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Bayero University, Kano; while the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, is a member; and Dr. Imam Wada Bello, Director Public Health and Disease Control, will serve as the Secretary of the Task Force.
Other members of the Committee are Prof. Isa Sadiq Abubakar from BUK; Dr. Amina Abdullahi Ganduje, from BUK; Dr. Shehu Abdullahi, Director Medical Services, State Ministry of Health; Dr. Bashir Abba, State Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO); Dr Shamsuddeen Sani, from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Maulid Warfa, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF; Dr. Mustapha Tukur, State Lead, CDC/NSTOP.
The Committee also consists of representatives of all the security agencies, representative of the five Emirate Councils, Alhaji Wada Aliyu Gaya, District Head of Ajingi and other relevant stakeholders, including the Secretary of the Red Cross; and Director Information from the state Ministry of Information, Inuwa Idris Yakasai.
During an Interactive Session with journalists prior to the inauguration of the Task Force, Ganduje promised that the state government would work hand-in-hand with relevant agencies, organisations and individuals in making sure that, the proactive measures taken by his administration succeed.
He added that, “I would want to use this opportunity to thank Zenith Bank, that comes to us without being approached, and assured that they would give their assistance towards effective response to the situation. We shall approach other private organisations and individuals.”
Ganduje further disclosed that arrangements have been concluded to establish screening points at all entry points in Kano state, adding that, “just recently, we completed establisment of security points through the major entry points to our dear state. Since we are also going to partner with security agencies for proper screening, we are going to use those security points for our screening exercises of those coming to Kano from those ends.”
In his remarks, the Co-Chairman of the Task Force, Prof. Habib, commended the state government for being proactive from day one up to the time of inaugurating the Task Force, re-emphasizing that COVID-19 is a global problem. Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tsanyawa stated that, “there are five strategies put in place to respond in the most appropriate way to this global phenomenon. The strategies include heightened surveillance and identification of potential suspects; efficient contact tracing, enhance risk communication and behavioral changes; effective management of confirmed cases, if any; and psychological support of confirmed cases, if any.”
Meanwhile, during the inspection of the Kano Isolation Centre, Ganduje promised to upgrade the Centre, that took care of the suspected Lassa Fever cases few weeks back and prepared for any unwanting Corona Virus suspected case(s) that might crop up.
The AUTHORITY reports that the Centre is situated at Yar Gaya, few kilometres away from Kano metropolis, in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area. Ganduje inspected the facility and was briefed about the state of the facility by the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Tsanyawa. According to Ganduje, “this Centre will be upgraded and will have more equipment that are of global standard. There is no mincing words in this.”
Prior to his visit to the Isolation Centre, Ganduje was at Kano Airport where he also inspected screening facilities at that entry point, assuring that his government would always support the good and proactive measures that were being taken by the Committee and other stakeholders.
He urged passengers affected by the necessary closure of the airport’s International Wing by the Federal Government, to see the directive as another way of sacrifice for the safety of all.
However, as the state government continue to play its role in ensuring that Kano maintains its covered record of COVID-free, it has become worrisome of the lackluster attitude of most residents if the ancient commercial city who seem to have turned deaf ears to the havoc the dreaded Corona virus is wreaking on the entire world.
Investigations by our Correspondent revealed that even as government-sponsored jingles and other awareness programmes continue to rent the Kano airwaves, most residents are yet to comply with the globally a acceptable precautionary measure against COVID-19 which is social distancing.
During the weekend, the usual wedding ceremonies for both Muslims and christians which attract huge crowd were held in many locations across the state without precaution. Also on Sunday, most churches in Kano were full to the brim as Christian worshipers attended churches in droves and mingled as if COVID-19 never existed.