Kaduna Raises Concern over Increase in COVID-19 Cases

  • May shut down public places if infection rate persists

By John Shiklam

The Kaduna State Government has warned that it will have no option than to shut down public spaces, including schools, markets, offices and places of worship if the current rate of Covid-19 infection persists.

There has been a steady raise in the rate of infection with 117 positive cases recorded on Friday.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday in Kaduna, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Amina Mohammed-Baloni, said: “If the rate of spread retains or exceeds the current pace, then we will have no option than to recommend the temporary closure of public spaces, including schools, markets, offices and places of worship.”

Giving an update on the rising cases of the infection in the state, the commissioner appealed for urgent action by residents to help stop the spread of the disease and save lives.

“In absolute and relative terms, Kaduna State is now recording high infection figures reminiscent of the first wave of Covid-19 spread in April, May and June 2020.

“The lowering of the infection rate following the first wave encouraged the government to approve the recommendation of the state Covid-19 Taskforce for a significant reopening of the state.

“However, we are saddened to report that the conditions that compelled the 75-day lockdown of the state are now being replicated,” the commissioner said.

According to her, “On 26th November, 2020, the state recorded 74 positive results from 531 samples.

“The quantum of infections since then suggest both high infection rates and the reality that a new wave of infections is spreading across the state.

“As at yesterday, 11th December, the state recorded 117 positive cases from 518 samples. This translates to almost one in four samples testing positive.”

She said the Ministry of Health expected some increase in infections after the reopening of schools, markets, places of worship and recreational centres, noting however, that the figures easily outstripped the estimated projection.

“While infections cut across age groups, this new wave especially affects those aged between 10 and 35.

“There is now a veritable danger to lives and livelihoods with the renewed Covid-19 infections.

“If the spread continues at the current rate, it may challenge and overwhelm the health system despite our efforts to improve the resilience of that sector.

“We cannot allow this to happen. Kaduna State contained the first wave because, among other measures, most citizens observed and practised the Covid-19 prevention protocols,” Baloni said.

She appealed to residents to recommit themselves to behaviours that protect them and their families from the infection by voluntarily complying with the Covid-19 protocols to avoid the worst case scenarios and limit the spread of the disease.

“We had previously observed the wholesale abandonment of any compliance with protective measures.

“We cautioned against this and reminded citizens that the relaxation of lockdown measures did not mean that Covid-19 had been defeated or disappeared.

“The rising infection is a reminder that Covid-19 remains a potent danger to lives and livelihoods. Anyone who remembers the pains and sacrifices of the lockdown period will not want that to be repeated,” she stated.

The commissioner said that as the lead agency for implementing Covid-19 containment, the Ministry of Health will be availing the state Covid-19 Taskforce of all the relevant data to monitor and access the rate of voluntary compliance.

“If the rate of spread retains or exceeds the current pace, then we will have no option than to recommend the temporary closure of public spaces, including schools, markets, offices and places of worship. But there is a less costly way out. And that involves citizens living their lives and conducting themselves in ways that do not spread the disease. That way, lives and livelihoods are protected, while public health officers try to contain and manage the disease without causing painful disruptions.

“I urge all citizens, businesses and organisations to appreciate the danger that we face and let us all work together to avoid emergency conditions. We have done it before. Let us do it again,” she said.