FG Probes Unexplained Deaths in Kano

Dr. Osagie Ehanire
  •   To ban doctors violating COVID-19 treatment rules

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government Wednesday said it had commenced a thorough investigation of the cause of high number of deaths recorded in Kano state recently.

The move by government came on the heels of a surge in the daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country, which rose to 117 on Tuesday

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who gave an update on the spread of covid-19 at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on Wednesday in Abuja said the country recorded 117 confirmed new cases of the disease, representing the highest ever since the pandemic began.

He said: “As of today, 22nd April, 2020, 782 people in 24 states and the FCT have been confirmed to have COVID-19. The 117 new cases represent the highest daily increase in new cases so far and is an indication of more efficient testing and increasing community transmission. The most affected States are: Lagos 59, FCT 29, Kano 14, Borno 6, Ogun 3, Katsina 4, and 1 each in Bauchi and Rivers”.

He said that 25 deaths had been recorded in total, and 197 people had been successfully treated for covid-19 and discharged.

While reacting to concerns generated by reports of mass burial in parts of Kano state recently, Ehanire said the federal government had stepped in to assist the state health officials to unravel the real cause of the deaths.

With regard to the deaths in Kano, Ehanire said the federal ministry of health, the state chief Epidemiologist, officials of Kano public health department and those of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were currently investigating the incident to find the real reasons for the burials going on there”.

Also the minister responded to reports of possible suspension of covid-19 testing in Kano state due to shortage of test kits, saying that some staff of the laboratory were infected while carrying out their duties.

He said that testing was temporarily halted in order to decontaminate the laboratory.

According to Ehanire, it was not an issue of shortage of testing kits as all the needed materials have been supplied.

Ehanire also said the federal ministry of health convened an emergency National Council of Health (NCH) meeting, via teleconference, where State Commissioners of Health and the Acting FCT Secretary for Health, were engaged, to review status and align all response to COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

He explained that some of the resolutions unanimously adopted were that henceforth all persons diagnosed with covid-19 should be treated in the State where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their states of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary.

The minister said that this was to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer.

Other decisions reached were that “Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and Pharmacists be forthwith prohibited from attempting to treat persons diagnosed as, or suspected to be COVID-19 patients, or else have their operating licenses cancelled.

“Private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients apply to their state ministries of health for permit, meet standard IPC standards and be accredited by a federal ministry of health certified state team after compliance with protocols, before being granted”.

Ehanire further said that states should notify the federal ministry of health of their isolation and treatment centres for inclusion on the COVID-19 platform to ensure a well-coordinated national response.

He added that 27 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) had been deployed to states by NCDC to support the covid-19 response, especially in Abia, Gombe and Sokoto states where such deployment was made recently.

The minister assured that active case finding is ongoing in communities with evidence of person-to-person transmission.

He said that the new. strategy requires more testing and diagnostics, and that health authorities were working to increase the capacity and activate additional laboratories.

He said the target was to have one or more public health laboratory with PCR capability in every state.