The federal government on Wednesday said verbal autopsies were ongoing to ascertain the cause of the increased deaths in Kano State.
Dozens of people died within a few days in Kano amid suspicion that they died from coronavirus.
However, the victims were not tested for the virus before their deaths and before they were promptly buried according to Islamic rites.
“In Nigeria, there are currently verbal autopsies underway in Kano State to identify the precise cause of the sudden and rapid increase in mortality in recent days,” President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Verbal autopsy, according to the Centre for Global Health Research, is a method of gathering information about symptoms and circumstances of an individual’s death to determine the cause of death. It involves gathering health information and description of events prior to death from interviews with persons(s) familiar with the deceased. The information gathered are then analyzed.
Shehu advised Nigerians to be prepared to accept whatever was scientifically shown to be the cause of the deaths.
“While some may wish to believe that there are other causes at play here like hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria’, there are others who say it is COVID-19.
“We should be prepared to accept the medical and scientific result of the autopsies and work together to confront the common enemy,” he said.
Kano has the third-highest coronavirus case in Nigeria, behind Lagos and Abuja. Testing was suspended in the state last week due to the nonavailability of testing materials and the fact that some of the health personnel tested positive for the virus. The unexplained deaths occurred during the suspension of testing in the city.
Read Shehu’s full statement below.
COVID-19: STATEMENT ON EVENTS IN KANO
Nigeria is only weeks into our fight against the invisible COVID-19 that, earlier this year, was unknown to almost every nation in the world.
Only earlier this month Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, made clear that ‘We are at the beginning in Africa’.
There is much that remains unknown about this virus. What we do know is that global infections rates continue to rise each day – even when in some nations affected some time before Nigeria, the daily rate of infection is now slowing.
We know too that there is a global shortage of personal protective equipment, virus testing kits and other medical devices required to fight this pandemic.
And we also know that in each and every country there are some cities and regions more severely affected than others.
In Nigeria, there are currently verbal autopsies underway in Kano State to identify the precise cause of the sudden and rapid increase in mortality in recent days.
While some may wish to believe that there are other causes at play here like hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria’, there are others who say it is COVID-19.
We should be prepared to accept the medical and scientific result of the autopsies and work together to confront the common enemy.
What we know all over the world is that communities with similar socioeconomic dynamics like Kano have found as very helpful, the sort of lockdown measures now imposed, with markets and other public places of worship shuttered more strictly.
The President and his government are with the people of Kano State and will not let them down.
If there is reason to believe that the mortality rate in Kano due to COVID-19 is out of control, it will spell a serious development to which the best action would be for the Federal government and state government to work more tightly together to find solutions and implement together.
There is no time for energy wasted on political point-scoring, whether by current or former holders of office – or for any differences between state and federal administrations to be publicly aired. This is no time for talk. Our common purpose is to preserve the lives and health of citizens.