Treat Kano as a COVID-19 Outbreak!

By: Deji Yesufu

There are very strong reasons to believe that the health epidemic that is ravaging Kano State is very likely COVID-19. While it is true there are no clear medical proofs to tell the world what is actually going on, I think it is safe to assume the worst in that state at the moment so that Nigeria can treat the situation with the urgency it deserves and help curb its spread to neighboring states and to the whole of the country.

This morning, the Kano State government described what has befallen the state as a combined case of hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria. The state’s Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, is quoted to have said:

“Although an investigation into the cause of deaths is still ongoing, preliminary reports from the Ministry of Health indicated that the deaths are not connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports have shown that most of the deaths were caused by complications arising from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria…”

As part of the investigations into the deaths in the state, it has been revealed that no autopsy has been done on the dead in the state because the people are averse to such practices. When people die, they are buried immediately. So an official is quoted to have said that Kano State is relying more on oral autopsy than medical postmortem.

A few moments to writing this article, the Kaduna State government, which has actually been quite proactive in its battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, reported that five young boys who were among the mass of young lads deported to Kaduna State from Kano, had tested positive to COVID-19. These are all indications to therefore conclude that the pandemic has moved beyond its initial hosts, who are usually the elites in the society, into the community and this might be the cause of the hundreds of deaths ongoing in the state.

The straw that has broken the back of the camel is the letter that former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, wrote to President Buhari, calling on the Federal Government to intervene in the health crisis in Kano State. Kwankwaso published this letter on his Twitter handle at 11:31am this morning and it reveals some scary details about the Kano situation. From Kwankwaso’s letter, we learn that Kano State has no COVID-19 response team. What was initially on ground was a make-shift committee that was populated by individuals who were not health professionals. In a short while of working on the pandemic in the state, many of them had contracted the disease and the whole committee had been disbanded. A few weeks ago an audio recording of a grandmother in distress was being passed around on social media. She said her son-in-law had died in Kano after showing symptoms of COVID-19 and she was calling on the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to visit her daughter and their children to ascertain that they had not been exposed to the disease also. Unfortunately there was no one available to attend to them. So, as the world is battling a pandemic, a whole Kano State has no testing facility or even a medical team to attend to ill persons.

Kwankwaso also reveals that the reports emerging from the Kano State government were clearly political and they were designed not to put the state in a bad light. This is the reason why we should hold the report by the state’s Commissioner for Information, about diabetes, hypertension and malaria, killing Kano residents, suspect. Obviously these diseases have long existed in Kano and the state never recorded this amount of medical fatalities. COVID-19 is known all over the world as a disease that kills elderly folks who have underlying medical conditions like the aforementioned. And one does not need to be a rocket scientist to tell that what is happening in Kano is an outbreak of COVID-19.

Lastly, Kwankwaso pointed out that Kano is the state with the largest population in Nigeria. It is also populated with persons who are generally not educated and living below poverty levels. These are factors that have potential for making this disease explode out of proportion. What is abundantly clear is that in a matter of days, this disease would be transported across Kano to all cities and towns around Kano state and in no time the whole of northern Nigeria would have come under the ravaging effect of this disease. And it is only a matter of days before it comes down to Southern Nigeria.

It is safe, therefore, to regard the deaths in Kano as resulting from COVID-19. Government must begin to set up machinery to deal with the obvious public health challenge that has hit Northern Nigeria. Doctors in Southern Nigeria should also begin to prepare to move up North to help out in the situation there. These will all be preventive measures to curb the spread of this disease to Southern Nigeria. As all of these are ongoing, we all must ensure adherence to social distancing, limited outing, and other measures that have been suggested to curb the spread of this disease.

COVID-19 is here and it is killing fast. Kano State is very likely a case in point.

Posted by Deji Yesufu


  1. Sometimes panterritorial arrangements often fail to achieve desired results and as quickly as possible. This is clearly the case with NCDC. A regional or decentralised strategy should have been contemplated and instituded. Kano should not have gone this bad. Valuable time has been lost . Federal and state authorities should now up their efforts in other to save the people of Kano. Enlist international organizations for help


    1. Very well said, sir. Thank you for dropping a comment.


  2. Anthony Seyinde April 28, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Is there anyone who will be able to man the borders of the southern state or the other states for that matter to ensure that interstate migration from kano for any reason is well tested before the mix with the population?. Somehow this seems to be a time bomb that no one is really acting on. Perhaps if SLS was still on the Emirate, maybe some drastic action could have been taken but now, it is to ‘To thine house, oh Israel’!


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