KANO State is facing the prospect of an accelerated spread of the coronavirus pandemic after about 193 street urchins known as almajirais tested positive for the virus just as Governor Abdullahi Ganduje eased the lockdown across the state.
Currently the fourth most affected state in Nigeria behind Lagos, Abuja and Oyo, Kano State has witnessed 1,257 of coronavirus, of which there have been 52 deaths. Across the state, the virus has been spread by the release of almajiris, who have come home from neighbouring states and infected their communities.
Only yesterday, Governor Ganduje announced the easing of the lockdown across Kano State, including allowing mosques to open and there are now fears that the combination of this and the almajiri problem will lead to a surge in infections. Alhaji Sanusi Kiru, the Kano State education commissioner, said that so far, 1,500 almajiri have been evacuated from Kano to their own states to help curtail the pandemic.
He added, however, that Kano State had received 400 almajiri, who were its own indigenes from neighbouring states. However, to help prevent them spreading it, the commissioner said that the state government has banned the traditional Qur’anic schools, stating that anybody who wants to operate one must have a dormitory for his almajiri.
Alhaji Kiru said: “A situation where an alrama Islamic scholar would come in with 1,000 almajiri without knowing where to even put them, that system is over. We will not tolerate such.”
He added that the government is recruiting 60 alramas into the state civil service to give them a sense of belonging. Dr Tijjani Hussain, the Kano State coordinator of the Covid-19 task force, said that out of about 2,000 samples they collected under the house-to-house testing done in Nassarawa Local Government, only one person tested positive.
Dr Hussain noted that this has contradicted the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control’s assertion that the local government is among those with the concentration of positives cases. Governor Ganduje, while directing the easing of the lockdown, appreciated how Kano State is recording success in the fight against the pandemic.
He said civil servants of Grade Level 12 and above should resume work as from Monday, July 6. Reiterating that street-begging is banned, he warned that only one person is allowed on a motorcycle and tricycle operators must not take more than two passengers.
“All markets are now opened and so also motor parks. People must observe the protocols of Covid-19 as enunciated by our health professionals,” Governor Ganduje said.
On schools re-opening, the governor said schools will only be opened upon the directive of the federal government. He added that the state is, however, preparing to allow all final year students to return to school soon.