From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
Even before Kano recorded its index case of COVID-19 pandemic in the first week of April, Kano state government displayed appreciable level of preparedness to fight the dreaded Corona Virus which has reshaped the global socio-economic balance. With the wave of the pandemic reaching Abuja, crossing through Kaduna and Katsina states, the state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had designed a three-point agenda for fighting the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic which are Preventive, Curative and Palliative agenda.
Speaking to The AUTHORITY on how effective the agenda are being implementated, the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba said all the three-point agenda are being pursued with vigour, adding that, “since the official index COVID-19 case appeared, the measures translate to setting up of a State Taskforce on COVID-19, Fund Raising Committee for Palliatives by Governor Ganduje. The first phase of the distribution of palliatives to 50,000 households of poorest of the poor across the 44 Local Government Areas of the state has been concluded.
” Also, the second phase which covered another 50, 000 households was concluded just as I am speaking to you. In all, we have covered 100, 000 households out of the targeted 300, 000 households.
“We have also provided enough Isolation Centres for COVID-19 patients which include the Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Center for patients with critical condition, such as those in need of ventilators; Mohammad Buhari Specialist Hospital Isolation Centre in Giginyu Quarters; Abubakar Imam Urology Isolation Centre set up by the state government in collaboration with Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Isolation centre at Daula Hotel.”
Malam Garba listed Isolation centers that are currently being constructed to include the 231- bed capacity at Sani Abacha Stadium Isolation Center; Karfi Sports Institute Isolation Centre which has 200 bed; Tofa Cottage Hospital Isolation Centre), adding that, “we have also engaged in community mobilization through the media to challenge attitudinal and behavioural changes that need to be overcome in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Other measures include mobilization of 5,000 volunteers, including retired doctors, training of 300 health workers on how to get involved in the push to curb the rampaging virus and 100 working journalists as frontline workers in the fight against the scourge.”
Even with its status as the most populous state in the country, Kano, to the surprise of many, was late in recording the first index case of Corona Virus. The reason for this feat was, 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. More so, early enough, the state government took the campaign against Corona Virus to all public institutions including schools, markets, places of worship, motor parks, airports and entry points across the state.
The state government 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. The sensitizatiion campaign has been paying off, as traders now provide soap and water for their customers before transacting business with them.
At the early stage, to ensure that Kano wins the war against Corona Virus, Ganduje took some drastic measures which include the inauguration of the 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 also 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 suspected cases on daily basis, among other measures.
To further ensure that the state contained the COVID-19 pandemic, 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. The state government also 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 spread of Corona Virus.
Moreso, Ganduje inaugurated the State Task Force Committee on COVID-19 headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, to battle the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. Ganduje also inaugurated the COVID-19 Response Committee as part of strategies to institutionalize Rapid Response against the current global 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. Indeed, the state government has been doing everything possible to support the Task Force for effective and efficient intervention. 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 succeeded. A promise kept.
Ganduje also ensured establishment of screening points at all entry points in Kano state. He also created active synergy and partnership with security agencies for proper adherence to the shutdown and lockdown orders in the state.
More so, the inguration of the Kano Fund Raising Committee on COVID-19 chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Muhammad Bello Yahuza has hugely contributed to the successes recorded so far in the fight against COVID-19 in Kano, particularly, in the area of cushioning the effects of hardship occassioned by the pandemic. Apart from distributing meaning packages of palliatives to about 100, 000 households so far, the Committee has been able to source funds and materials running into hundreds of millions of Naira from corporate organizations and good spirited individuals which has tremendously helped in the fight against the COVID-19 in Kano. Even at that, the Ganduje administration has pumped in over N280 million to help the Committee carry out its assignment diligently.
Speaking during a recent Press Conference organized by the Kano State Task Force on COVID-19, at Africa House, Government House, leader of the Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19 in Kano, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo described Kano as a pace-setter in the fight against COVID-19 Pandemic. He was actually reading the message of the Minister of Health, who commended Ganduje for his doggedness in the fight against the dreaded pandemic.
Dr. Gwarzo 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. 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 and we assure you of the continuous support and the milestones that we are covering together. We have spent sometime 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.
“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. 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-19 Response team in Kano for being with us at every level of our mission.”
Last Thursday, during a Press Conference at Africa House, Government House, Ganduje ordered for house-to-house sample collection. This followed emanating data from the State Task Force on COVID-19 that the spread of the virus is concentrated within the metropolitan Kano, with Taurani Local Government Area recording the highest number of carriers. The emergency exercise is expected to take place within the metropolitan Local Government Areas of the state, including Taurani, Nasarrawa, Dala, Fagge, Ungogo, Kumbotso and Kano Municipal. It is also worthy to note that Kano has opened Sample Collection Centres across the 44 Local Government Areas, with some Local Government Areas having more than one centre.
Speaking during the Press Conference, Ganduje said, “we are putting our emphasis within the eight metropolitan Local Government Areas. We are engaging in house-to-house sample collection. I think during the political campaign, some politicians engaged in house-to-house campaign. Right now for COVID-19, we are engaging in house-to-house sample collection campaign.”
According to him, “there is no doubt we are always improving in our successes in the fight against COVID-19. This is as a result of the commitment of theTask Force and commitment of the frontline health workers.
By now, we have known the easiest way to contract this disease and the easiest way to avoid it. We know the three commandments of COVID-19 which are social distancing, washing and sanitizing our hands and wearing our face mask. These three commandments should become our way of life. They should become part of our everyday life.”
He further hinted that, “relaxation of lockdown is now from 6 a.m to 6 p.m on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. We also decided to open our markets in order to improve business activities in the state. We are producing face masks in large quantities and the market leaders have promised to produce face masks and distribute them free of charge. They will also provide water and soap for visitors and customers to make use of them. We have also decided to fumigate all the markets to ensure that they are devoid of diseases. The ratio of collection of samples has increased and we are determined to continue from this line.”
Going by the zeal and energy Ganduje is dispensing, coupled with his ceaseless determination to battle COVID-19, it may not be out of place to say that Kano is winning the war against the Corona Virus, even in the face of some cultural barriers which would have made the fight against the pandemic in the ancient commercial city even more difficult.