JIGAWA State health authorities have raised fears of a possible spread of the Covid-19 virus after 21 urchins popularly known as almajiris who recently arrived from neighbouring Kano State tested coronavirus-positive.
Northern Nigeria has a unique urchin problem as almajiris sent to Koranic schools have ended up on the streets of late, becoming destitute beggars, criminals and in worst case scenarios terrorists. With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many state governments have been shipping them back to their states of origin.
Kano and Borno states who have the highest number of almajiris have recently been putting these children on buses and sending them away because of the social menace they pose. However, it has been found out that many of them have contracted the virus, forcing their home states to reject them, creating a potential social crisis.
Dr Abba Zakari, the Jigawa State health commissioner and the chairman of the Jigawa State Task Force Committee on Covid-19, revealed that 21 almajiris who tested coronavirus-positive have been sent back to Kano State from where they were repatriated. He added that the state was working with a laboratory in Kaduna to test all almajiris brought in from other states as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic in the state.
Dr Zakari said: “As of Wednesday the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released 23 additional cases. Apart from the 23 cases, we also got 28 almajirai that tested positive and out of 23 announced by the NCDC, three were almajirai.
“So, out of a total of 51 cases, 31 are almajirai. Before now we had 118 cases, plus the 51, that is a total of 169 cases. Based on the calculation, you will find out that almost 56% cases that we have here are almajirai and they all were repatriated from Kano.”
According to Dr Zakari, the Jigawa State government has plans to establish its own testing centre in Dutse. He added that they have selected a new laboratory that will be built in the Dutse General Hospital where the equipment will be installed.