COVID-19: Ministerial Task Team Makes U-Turn Over Comments On Kano Mass Deaths

From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano

Leader of the Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19 in Kano, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo on Tuesday in Kano made a U-turn over comments credited to him on the COVID-19 death records in Kano, insisting that he was quoted out of context.

Some national newspapers on Monday quoted Dr. Gwarzo as saying that, “COVID-19 is the cause of mass deaths in Kano.”

But speaking during the Kano COVID-19 Task Force Press Briefing at Africa House, Government House, Kano, Dr. Gwarzo said medical experts undertaking verbal autopsy for those involved in Kano “mysterious deaths,” are yet to conclude their assignment.

He noted that it would have been wrong of him to preempt the report of the medical experts.

According to him, “some of the national dailies reported a percentage of people that died of COVID-19 in the state, that is not true.
“The state is doing verbal autopsy, and the result is not out. I want to use this opportunity to reiterate that the newspaper reports were wrong.”

Dr. Gwarzo also conveyed the goodwill message of the Minister of Health to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, describing his zeal in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as worthy of emulation.

According to him, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Health, has donated four ambulances, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, and 200 pieces of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to Kano state government.

Dr. Gwarzo said: “The Minister has said that I should convey his special appreciation to your leadership and to the people of Kano State for their warm reception.

“We appreciate your efforts the for the continuous support and the milestones that we are covering together. We have spent almost a week in Kano and a lot of things have happened in Kano State. We must say that a lot of progress is being made and we forsee a brighter future in a short while to come.

“Before I look into the message I brought from the Honourable Minister, I want to correct a little impression… that the name of our team is not Presidential Task Team. It is a Ministerial Task Team. When we go back, we will report to the Minister of Health and he reports to the Presidential Committee. The name of our team is Ministerial Task Team on COVID 19 in Kano.

“The Honourable Minister has also directed me to bring to the state some equipment which we shall hand over to the state government in a little while. We have four ambulances that are equipped and also manned by a crew of 21. The crew is well trained in handling emergency. We have two oxygen concentrators, one for the state and one for the Teaching hospiital in Kano.

“We also have brought with us two ventilators, one for the state and one for the Teaching Hospital. We also have a pack of 200 PPEs for the state and 80 for Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

“There are several equipment that I may not be able to mention for now.

“The Honourable Minister has also requested me to also thank His Excellency for providing us with a secretariat for the Ministerial Task Team.

“Like you know, operating in the field requires a befitting accommodation. What I saw was not only befitting, honestly, Your Excellency, it was very, very comfortable… and because of that reason, I told the Minister that the facility given to the Task Team is so comfortable such that we can even convert it to a training facility; and from there, we shall pull all the various pillars of the response. We have sufficient facilitators to be training officials in that place.

“The Minister has agreed and approved that other states could come to Kano and learn. So very soon, Your Excellency, you may be seeing members of the response team from neigbouring states, coming to Kano to learn from what improvement we are seeing in the state.

“The next item is that we have some challenges. Some of the challenges include the speed with which we discharge our patients. It is in our record that some of the early entrants in those Isolation facilities have for a long time, been asymptomatic.

“They are no longer sick. Continuing to keep them there would not be in the best interest of the response.

“I am happy that Dr. Tijjani, the Coordinator of the Response in Kano, has announced that three people would be discharged today or have already been discharged.

“I think, Your Excellency, there are many more that are waiting to be discharged. This is both a challenge and also good news for the state and therefore, the protocol must discuss in details and their discharge proceedings would soon be. …I am sure the state is taking action on that.

“Apart from that , there is also the challenge of rumour, which I intend to clarify. Some of the newspapers and pressmen reported wrongly and absolutely wrongly, that I reported a percentage of people that have died in the state, who were supposedly people who have died of COVID 19.

“That is not the truth because I have said repeatedly that the state is embarking on a study, which we were very, very pleasantly impressed; and surprised that the state has already gone ahead to do a post mortem (a verbal autopsy), and the result is not out.

“The state is also doing studies in the graveyards and the result is not out.

“Yesterday (Monday), along with the Federal team and the state, we concluded another protocol, which would do the actual testing of samples. And then, their conclusive result would say that this is the proportion that had died of COVID; and this is the percent that have died of other causes.

“Your Excellency, I want to use this opportunity to reiterate that the newspaper report was wrong and that the correct thing is that we are awaiting the result.

“When the result comes out, it will not be befitting on the Ministerial Task Team to announce it. It is the state’s responsibility.

“We look forward to your continued leadership and we also look forward to your continued support. We want to thank His Excellency and the leadership and management of the COVID Response team in Kano for being with us at every level of our mission.”

In his remarks, Governor Ganduje appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his prompt response to the calls of stakeholders and members of National Assembly to give Kano the special attention that it deserves in the fight against COVID-19.

According to him, the renewed fight against COVID-19 in the state is yielding positive results as the Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19, is planning together with the Kano team, mobilizing together with the Kano team and executing together with the Kano team to dislodge COVID-19 pandemic from the state.
Ganduje also commended President Buhari for ensuring that the NCDC Test Centre at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospitals (AKTH) is now working 100 per cent.

He added that Kano now has three test centres, including the Bayero University Kano (BUK) test centre and the Mobile test centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist hospital, donated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

He also expressed appreciation to Aliko Dangote and the chairman of BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Isiyaku Rabi’u for donating generously to the fight against COVID-19 in the state.

He added that, “you can see that the bottleneck that we used to have has been removed by these donations made by our illustrious sons of the soil.

“On our own part, since we have enough capacity at the test centres, we have to increase capacity in the sample collection. We are also planning to get more Isolation Centres.”

Ganduje who condoled with Kano people on the recent death of the Emir of Rano and other prominent Kano citizens, thanked front line Doctors and Nurses for the selfless services they are rendering in the fight against COVID-19, promising that they would be provided with all that they need to work effectively, including PPE.

He also urged private hospitals to desist from sending patients back from their hospitals, noting that apart from COVID-19, Nigerians are still battling with other ailments which deserves medical attention.

Ganduje also appealed to Kano residents not to abuse the 12 hour per week free period approved during the lockdown, adding that government has mobilized enough security agencies to enforce the lockdown order.
He advised residents to strictly observe the COVID-19 protocols.

Also speaking, the Coordinator (Technical) of Kano COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Tijjani Hussaini said three patients are due to be discharged from Isolation Centres.
Dr. Tijjani said the total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Kano is put at 365, adding that over 400 people are being followed for contact tracing.

He also revealed that plans have been concluded to establish four additional Isolation Centres in Kano, describing the move as a huge success.

According to him, “we face the challenge of encountering resistance and non-disclosure of information from the public. We also gave the challenge of stigmatization of COVID-19 patients.”

He urged Kano residents to observe food health etiquettes, wash and sanitize their hands regularly, maintain social distancing, wear face mask, adding that such steps will greatly reduced the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Speaking on behalf of the chairman of Kano COVID-19 Fund Raising Committee, the state Commissioner of Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said the poorest of the poor across the 44 Local Government Areas have benefitted from the first phase of the COVID-19 Palliatives.

Garba who stood in for Prof. Muhammad Yahuza Bello, said the Committee will soon commence the second phase of the Palliatives, while appealing to good-spirited Nigerians and corporate bodies to donate generously so as to help alleviate the sufferings of the poor masses during the lockdown order occassioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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