Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, development expert and human rights activist, says wartime strategy should be adopted to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Kano state.
There has been rising deaths in Kano amid the pandemic and the state government has been admitted that the situation is a serious one.
In a letter on Monday to Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano, Muhammed-Oyebode, who is also the chief executive officer of Murtala Muhammed Foundation, said the existing problems in the state make it more vulnerable to the virus.
Her father, who was the military head of state from 1975 to 1976, was from Kano state.
“Unfortunately, news coming out of Kano State corroborated by my findings is worrisome. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire was quoted on Sunday to have acknowledged that the recent spike in deaths in Kano required further investigation and, the Deputy Coordinator, Kano State Covid-19 Response, Dr. Sabitu Shuaibu in speaking on Channels TV on Saturday did indicate that the deaths in the state had reached 640 in the last one week,” she wrote.
“As a Muslim, our Holy Book makes us understand that ‘No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart.’ Though I do not wish that the increase in deaths being reported should cause mass hysteria and panic, but, we cannot adopt a fatalist view of the situation or remain in denial. Beyond the official figures from the NCDC, the evidence indicates clearly that COVID 19 is very much within our borders, as the exponential surge in ‘mysterious’ deaths provide an accurate picture of the crisis we have on our hands.
“Kano state already has considerable developmental challenges that threaten to be compounded by this pandemic. We have a huge population, endemic poverty and high rates of illiteracy amongst other indicators that make us extremely vulnerable. This portends horrendous catastrophe for our people if, God forbid, we lose the war against COVID 19. I therefore entreat you to take necessary action to urgently address this predicament and save the people of Kano.
“Some of the steps I would like to suggest are:
* Declare a State of Emergency in Kano State with immediate effect
* Exercise your powers as Governor to lockdown the entire Kano State and work with the Nigerian security forces to enforce this
* Embark on a community awareness program to sensitise all indigenes and residents of the state to protocols that have been prescribed by the WHO including: hand washing, social distancing, use of face masks and self-isolation
* Adopt wartime strategies to minimise the spread of the virus, which would include commandeering existing infrastructure as isolation centres, in particular repurposing boarding schools and university accommodation as much needed beds for the sick
* Practice intense tracing, categorisation and management of contacts.
* Provide health care workers on the frontline with adequate PPEs
* Adopt NCDC guidelines in dealing with those who have been confirmed infected, as well as enforce adherence to guidelines for the burial of the deceased.”
She added that urgent and coordinated action must be taken and the support of all stakeholders must be sought to turn the tide against the aggressive contagion in Kano State, and to save the state from the dire projected outcomes.