NIGERIA Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) officials have re-opened the Kano State testing centre which was closed last week after several members of staff there contracted the dreaded coronavirus.
Kano State currently has the third highest number of Covid-19 instances in Nigeria after Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja with 77 cases. However, Kano is the least equipped to deal with the pandemic as it lacks functioning testing laboratories and the three isolation centres in the state failed to supply their staff with personal protective equipment (PPE).
As a result, staff at the isolation centres were contracting coronavirus, which led to 70% of doctors in the state absconding from their duty posts. Things have since gone from bad to worse as yesterday, three people diagnosed as coronavirus-positive fled from isolation, risking spreading the virus further.
Over the last week, 150 people have died from several other illnesses across Kano State, indicating a total breakdown of the local healthcare system. Stepping in to save the situation, the presidential task force on Covid-19 has got the NCDC to re-open the test laboratory centre at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH).
NCDC director-general Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said that the laboratory suspended operations due to a shortage of reagents. He added that it has now reopened as a national response team made up of 16 people has been deployed to Kano State.
Dr Ihekweazu said: “I will like to remind everyone that during a pandemic, the risk of spread is to those areas where the population density is the highest. We are all aware of the population density in Kano, so Kano has always been very high on our radar.
“The high number of cases that we are now seeing in Kano is really not a surprise and we are very concerned about this and we are doing everything we can. Despite our strong commitment to quickly control the spread of the coronavirus, there is no magic bullet but if anyone has one I will be happy to get it.
“Just last week, I visited Kano and met with the governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje and we had very fruitful discussion. We did everything possible to activate the Kano lab but sometimes speed also has consequences, so we had to pause and shut the lab for the safety of workers at the lab.
“The Kano lab will go functional today as everybody is working hard to get the lab working. We remain focused on our targets, which is to increase testing across the country and we are also working hard to investigate the causes of the deaths in Kano.
“This is a time for leadership, solidarity and not the time to point fingers. We understand it is a marathon and not a sprint.”