COVID-19: Fears spread as North-West records more deaths

•Sokoto journalists in isolation as colleague dies of COVID-19, state govt probes deaths •92 died in Hadejia within one week —Jigawa govt •Buhari loses nephew in Daura


A huge harvest of deaths in North West states is spreading fear across other states in the country as COVID-19 continues its ravage.

Reports from Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and Kano states have continued to reveal daily unexplained deaths in scores, fuelling fears that COVID-19 might be responsible for many of them.

Jigawa: 92 die in one week

The report of a five-man committee set up by the Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, to investigate the mysterious deaths in Hadejia Local Government Area of the state, indicated late on Thursday that 92 people died there in the last one week.

This was contained in a statement made available to Saturday Tribune in Dutse by the Special Assistant to the governor on Social Media, Alhaji Auwalu Sankara.

In the last seven days, the government said General Hospital, Hadejia, recorded 46 deaths, while the community recorded 44 mortalities, just as records from the two cemeteries in the local council showed that 92 corpses were buried within eight days.

According to the statement, findings by the committee revealed that the majority of the deceased were males who accounted for 73 per cent, while the remaining 23 per cent were females.

The report, the statement said, showed that most of the deaths, 59 per cent, took place at the homes of the deceased, while 41per cent took place at the general hospital. The statement also quoted the report as claiming that whereas 74 per cent of the deceased were above 60 years, 15 per cent were between the ages of 40 and 60.

“All of the deceased persons who were investigated had pre-existing diseases like stroke, diabetes, dementia, liver diseases or musculoskeletal diseases and none of the deceased had a travel history outside Hadejia Local Government Area in a month prior to his death and none had a history of contact with either a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.

“Only one person out of those investigated persons had fever, cough,l and difficulty in breathing and diarrhea in the week leading to his death. He died at home and his family members are already in isolation,” the statement quoted the report as saying.

Meanwhile, the state government called on the people of the council area to stay calm and continue to practise social distance and personal hygiene.

Sokoto: Journalists in isolation as colleague dies of COVID-19

The last two weeks have also witnessed an unprecedented number of deaths in Sokoto State.

The journalism profession took a hit from the pangs of the deaths as it lost a member, a senior correspondent (name withheld) with a Lagos-based newspaper in the state. He was last seen on April 27 at a press briefing by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammed Ali Inname, on the progress of his office against COVID-19. The deceased, it was said, participated in the entire process looking tired somewhat. It was learnt that he was later taken to the hospital for medical attention where, sources said, he was barely attended to for almost 24 hours. One of his neighbours who took him to the hospital said doctors on duty said his case was suspected to be COVID-19 and there were no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for them to check him.

The journalist died the next day at the hospital after which his sample was taken to confirm his COVID-19 status. He was discovered to have died of coronavirus. The discovery, it was gathered, caused jitters among members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) where he belonged, many of whom promptly went into self isolation.

On the list of prominent personalities in the state who died over the course of the last 14 days is a former governor of the state, Dr Dahiru Nadama. He was aged 82. Nadama, who was deputy to Shehu Kangiwa, who died in 1981, ruled the state for about two years before the abrupt termination of the Second Republic in 1983. Old age-related illness, not COVID-19, was cited as the cause of his death.

An unnamed permanent secretary was also said to have died during the week. Details of his illness and death were not known as of press time on Friday, but a source said that the traditional ruler of his hometown who was in his 90s also died recently. They were relations.

Another prominent person who passed away recently was Professor Lawal Abubakar, who was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS). The academic died in a private hospital in the state. He was said to be suffering from diabetes. A source told one of our correspondents that the deceased had been monitoring his food intake since the commencement of this year’s Ramadan fast because of his medical condition. “He never knew that his sugar level was down and when he began to feel uncomfortable, he decided to seek medical help at the private hospital when he couldn’t get any help from UDUTH. At the private hospital, his sugar level shot up and he regained a bit of stability. But complications soon set in and we lost him in the process.

“The NCDC requested for his sample and it was later discovered that he actually died ofCOVID-19. It was established that the late professor contracted the virus in the course of his treatment at the said hospital. The infection was said to have been aggravated by his health status as a diabetic,” the source said.

Another person that died within same period was one Oyemakinde, a branch service manager (BMS) with a new generation bank in the state. He was reported to have suffered a sudden asthma attack. It was alleged that the banker was initially denied access to a public medical facility due to the fear that he might be suffering from COVID-19. He was said to have eventually patronised a private hospital where he was stabilized and discharged. Oyemakinde reportedly died inside his official car as he was being rushed back to the hospital after his condition became critical.

A source told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity that a sample was thereafter taken from his remains and it was established that he died of COVID-19.

His immediate family, it was gathered, however, believed that Oyemakinde was not a carrier of the virus; that he probably got infected after his visit to the said private hospital.

Sokoto State Commissioner for health Dr Muhammed Ali Inname, on Friday disclosed that the state government has set up a fact finding panel to investigate the rumour of mass deaths in the state.

Dr. Inamme, who is also the Chairman of Task Force on covid-19 in the state stated this while reacting to a report of mass deaths in the state.

Zamfara: Death fear spreads

In Zamfara State, residents are also gripped with fear following the ravaging coronavirus pandemic vis-à-vis the deaths, in quick succession, of many people within the last two weeks, either in their homes or in hospitals. Prominent personalities among the deceased include the Emir of Kaura Namoda, Alhaji Muhammad Ahmad Asha. He died in the early hours of Sunday, May 3.

The Emir, who was ill and hospitalised for sometime, was said to have suffered from diabetes and hypertension for many years. However, while on admission at the hospital, before he died, his blood sample was reportedly taken for COVID-19 test. The result, which only came out after his death, was positive for the virus. Alhaji Ahmad Asha passed away at the age of 71. He was on the throne for 16 years.

AlhajiYawaleDango,a civil servant, died on May 2 during a brief illness. Until his death,Dango was a permanent secretary in the state.He was said tobe a diabetic.

There was also Malam Shehu Liman Isah, the Chief Imam of Jummu’at Mosque, Tudun Wada, Gusau, whose death occurred on May 3 in Gusau. He was said to be a diabetes and hypertension patient.

An elder brother to the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha, Alhaji Sani Mallaha, died on Monday, May 4, at a private hospital in Gusau. He, it was learnt, had suffered from diabetes, hypertension and paralysis for some years.

Kano: Death of prominent people

In just a matter of two weeks, Kano State witnessed a harvest of deaths, among them of numerous prominent persons, which, however, have yet to be officially explained. But there have continued to be insinuations that most of the deaths were brought about by COVID19 infections.

Amongthe prominent persons who died in the last two weeks is the recentlyappointedEmir of Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar Ila. He was aged 74 when he died during a brief illness.

Another on the list isProfessor Isa Hashim, 86. A professor of Political Science and senior lecturer at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), Hashim reportedly died after his health deteriorated following the deaths of his childhood friends in quick succession.

The death of Professor Balarabe Maikaba of the Mass Communication Department of the same university occurred within the period. He was alleged to have died of diabetes and high blood pressure, ailments which he had allegedly battled for about five years.

Dr Ghali Umar of the Department of Architecture, Kano State University of Science and Technology and Malam Musa Tijjani, editorof Triumph Newspapers, also died within the last weeks.

A renowned economist, Professor Ibrahim Ayagi; father of Malam Sani Aliyu, coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Alhaji Aliyu Deneji, 96; and Dr Muhammadu Uba Adamu, father of Professor Abdallah Uba Adamu, vice chancellor of the National Open University, were also among the prominent persons who passed away over the course of the last two weeks.

Others were Atiku Nagodi, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who died at the age of 54 during a protracted illness and UNICEF Head of Communication, Malam Rabiu Musa, 60, who was said to have complained of sore throat, malaria and difficulty breathing before he passed away.

Last week, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health and leader of the Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Nasiru Sani Gwarzo, was reported to have said in an interview conducted in Hausa language which was translated to English language that coronavirus infections were responsible for the wave of mysterious deaths recorded in the state. He, however, denied the reports Tuesday, saying the comments credited to him were false.

Speaking during a Kano COVID-19 Task Force press briefing at the Government House, Kano, Dr Gwarzo said the medical experts carrying out virtual autopsy for those involved in the mysterious deaths had yet to conclude their assignment.

He said: “We have the challenge of rumour which I intend to clarify. Some newspapers reported that we said a percentage of the people that died in the state died of COVID-19. That is not true. I have said repeatedly that the state is embarking on a study and we are very impressed that the state has gone ahead to do a post-mortem, virtual autopsy but the result is not out.

“The state is also doing studies at the grave yards. Yesterday, the federal and the state teams, we concluded on the actual testing of samples.

“Only after then can we have a conclusive result, to say that this is the number that died of COVID-19 and this is the proportion thatdied from other sources.

“I want to use this opportunity to reiterate that that report was wrong and the correct thing is that we are awaiting the result. And it is not the responsibility of the Ministerial Task Force on COVID-19 to announce the result but the Kano State government’s.”

 Katsina counting its deaths too

In Katsina State, eight people were reported to have died of COVID-19. The first person who died about a month ago was a medical doctor who owned a clinic in Daura, Aliyu Yakubu. Yakubu was said to have travelled to Lagos and Kogi states and had on his way back realised that he had the symptoms of the virus. It was learnt that he went straight to a medical facility in Daura and was immediately placed on admission. He died a few hours later.

Seven other people were reported to have died in the past weeks in the state, bringing the total of deaths to eight. At a press briefing on the virus, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Abdulkareem Sirika, confirmed the death of the eight people.

He, however, failed to disclose their identities. But Saturday Tribune gathered that the only prominent person suspected to have died as a result of coronavirus was the wife of the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk, who himself is currently at the Intensive CareUnit of the Federal Medical Centre,Katsina. He is also suspected to be battling with coronavirus.

Although there has been no proof that the Emir’s wife’s death was related to COVID-19, many residents of Daura are of the belief that she died from complications arising from COVID-19infection.

Meanwhile, in Kaduna State, two people are on record to have died of COVID-19.





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