Experts’ report confirms Daily Trust story on Kano deaths

Experts’ report confirms Daily Trust story on Kano deaths

A community-based survey with strong evidence of data analytics has confirmed a recent Daily Trust exclusive report on increased mortality in Kano State within days.

Daily Trust on 21st April, 2020, reported that 150 people died in Kano in three days and were buried in three cemeteries, heightening fears that they might have died as a result of a strange ailment.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, in a reaction to Daily Trust enquiries had said the ministry could not immediately verify the claim but assured that it was investigating the incident and possible causes of the deaths.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje earlier denied the Daily Trust story in an interview with Channels Television, but later admitted the development through his commissioner.
One week after the Daily Trust report, the governor in a statement through his Commissioner of Information, Muhammad Garba, confirmed the deaths but said the preliminary report showed it was not connected to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Nigeria has been battling COVID-19 pandemic since March with 1,532 cases recorded as at Tuesday, among which 45 deaths occurred. Kano recorded 115 cases with one death, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The survey, which was conducted by an Applied Mathematician and Data Analyst, at the Department of Mathematics, Yusuf Maitama Sule University in Kano, Yusuf Yau Gambo, was reviewed by two experts in the field of medicine, along with a clinical perspective provided to further clarify the survey result.
While the first reviewer, Dr. Auwal Abubakar is a Medical and Public Health Professional at the University of California Berkeley, USA, the other is Audu Liman, the Chief of Party, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) SENSE Project at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola.

The report acknowledged multiple stories done by Daily Trust on the deaths.  It said: “After the first initial reports of the reported deaths, Daily Trust reported on April 25 that the Kano State Government denied the mysterious deaths being recorded within the state.

“These concerns have reportedly intensified with the multiple deaths of prominent personalities in the state including six highly regarded professors,” it noted.

Analysis of the report’s finding based on data obtained responses within the affected Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state was quite revealing.

Symptoms typical with COVID-19
The clinical perspective of the report indicates that the symptoms were suggestive of COVID-19. Dr. Abubakar, who provided this perspective said: “Although it’s hard to point out the possible cause of death based on the data, however, the possibility of relating the situation to the current COVID-19 pandemic could not be ruled out.

“This is because the data strongly aligns with the current COVID-19 pandemic in terms of symptoms, incubation period, age group affected and other demographic characteristics. Nonetheless, the only way to confirm this is by conducting autopsies on an adequate sample size.”

Further findings from the respondents on the symptoms exhibited by the deceased indicated that fever was the most prevailing, loss of consciousness, weakness of the body and cough, as well as others. The report noted that the symptoms may not point to a specific illness, but may point ‘to illness suggestive of infection’.

How deaths rose in 2 weeks, more among aged men
Respondents said they noticed the spike in deaths from 13th of April but heightened when they said it rose from about 5 per cent to 41 per cent. As at when the study was conducted last week, after the Daily Trust reports, the death rate was still at 41 percent.

The report said: “Most of the reported death cases by respondents happened in Kano metropolis with vast majority of the deaths occurring in Kano Municipal LGA followed by Gwale and Dala LGAs.

“It is remarkable to note that all the LGAs in the metropolitan recorded these mass deaths and only a few on the outskirts of Kano were affected. Non-metropolitan LGAs seemed to be not affected by this increase in deaths based on the responses.”
The report also shows that the increased deaths in Kano State happened among the elderly people, mostly above 60 years of age across both gender. However, male gender accounted for 91% as compared to only 9% females.

The period of sickness of the deceased was usually short, with the data suggesting that most of them died within 10 days of illness. However, it is unclear whether most of the deceased visited hospitals. About one-quarter of them spent the period of their illness at home, the report further stated.

‘What govt, others should do’
The report provided a two-pronged recommendation, first to the government and to members of the public.

Top of the four recommendations for the government include the conducting of autopsies to a reasonable number of future deaths by situating a medical team in cemeteries to take samples with the consent of bereaved families present.

It also urged the government to constitute a team of experts to conduct an in-depth survey to get the exact death toll; keep the people informed about developments, and increase testing capacity for COVID-19 in the state.

The report also enjoined members of the public to remain calm as the authorities investigate the cause of the deaths, comply with extant health guidelines provided by the government and desist from spreading fake news.



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