PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has been asked by the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) to reverse the recent government decision to lift the lockdown as 80% of all samples taken in Kano State have proven positive.
Although Nigeria only has 2,558 coronavirus cases of which there have been 87 casualties, this has been attributed to limited testing. Nigeria is lagging way behind fellow African nations like South Africa, Ghana and even Djibouti when it comes to testing, forcing the federal government to recently open 18 more laboratories.
Despite this, as from today, the Nigerian government lifted the restrictions in the Federal Capital territory Abuja and Lagos and Ogun states, because the economy could not cope with the lockdown. There are now fears that this could lead to an increased spread of the virus, particularly as members of the public are disregarding social distancing guidelines.
NUAHP president Dr Obinna Ogbonna, revealed that in Kano State in particular, 80% of every 100 samples taken for testing always came back positive. As of March, the state had no case of Covid-19 but on April 11, a former ambassador, who attended a Jumat service while awaiting his coronavirus test result, was diagnosed as positive.
He subsequently spread the virus across the state and Kano now has 342 cases, of which six have died, making it the second most affected state behind Lagos. Dr Nasiru Gwarzo, the head of the 16-man Nigeria Centre for Disease Control team sent to Kano State, said there is an urgent need for the people of Kano to take the deadly disease seriously.
Dr Gwarzo said: “This is a serious situation which needs collective effort to address as the case of pandemic has gone beyond people’s imagination as it has gone to community transmission. What we are afraid of in this pandemic is what is happening.
“The pandemic has left the first stage of entering the country, it has left the second stage and has entered the third stage of community spread. This is not news that will be palatable to the public but like a Hausa proverb says, on the day you are to take a bath, you cannot hide your navel.
According to Dr Gwarzo, most of the recent mass deaths in Kano State were caused by Covid-19 despite the fact that there is some truth in the fact that some were from other ailments like hypertension, meningitis, acute malaria and diabetes. NUAHP, which consists of clinical professionals in the health sector apart from physicians and nurses, said its decision to call for the reversal of the president’s order was based on its observation in the last few days concerning the increase in the number of infected persons, number of deaths and testing capacity.
NUAHP said: “The union has studied carefully the declaration by President Buhari on the gradual easing of lockdown nationwide with effect from Monday, May 4, 2020 and hereby raises a serious concern based on reported cases of increase in coronavirus infection and spread across the country in the last few days. As a union with members as frontlines workers, we cannot but caution the federal and affected state governments to continue with the lockdown until adequate measures have been taken to contain it.
“We must not forget the fact that the deficit of health professionals, medical materials and facilities in our country would not be able to handle whatever upsurge that may arise due to the high incidences especially the community transmission that is being presently witnessed in some parts of the country.”
Kano State has said it requires no fewer than 5,000 bed spaces in isolation centres to accommodate the rising number of patients in the state over the next one month. Professor Isah Abubakar, the director of infection control at the Mallam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, said there were three fully equipped isolation centres with over 600 bed spaces in the state but more were being added.
According to Professor Abubakar, the state government has established six additional isolation centres which would soon commence operations to complement the existing ones. He added: “The newly established centres expected to begin operation soon are at the Abubakar Imam Urology Hospital, Air Force Hospital, Murtala Mohammed Library, Daula Hotel, Sport Training Institute, Karfi and Kofar Mata Stadium.”