COVID-19: Has Kano State Found A Secret Vaccine?

 

Going by the most recent publication of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, - Nigeria's leading national public health institute, on the number of coronavirus cases in Nigeria, Kano State has recorded 1,309 cases in total as at the 12th of July, 2020. It presently occupies the 7th position in the league of affected states in Nigeria while Lagos tops it with a massive 12,427 confirmed cases. This is quite interesting and impressive considering the population size of Kano as well as the nature of the disease which could easily spiral out of control within a short time. For example, the United States of America has recorded 120,000 news cases in the last 48hrs amid its state of the art containment strategies and advancement in healthcare. 

What is Kano's secret containment strategy? Are Kano residents immune to the disease? Have they found a secret vaccine against it? Are the residents adhering to social distancing measures and other health guidelines better than their counterparts in other troubled states? What is Kano doing rightly that Lagos State is doing wrongly? These are rhetorical questions begging for answers.

Before now, there was mass hysteria about what the coronavirus experience would look like in Kano State. Kano touted as the most populated state in Nigeria on paper, recorded its first case of the deadly disease on the 11th of April, 2020. Health analysts anticipated that Kano was going to be the epicentre of the disease outbreak in Nigeria with many reasonable factors sighted. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje's capacity to handle the impending outbreak was also questioned by experts. The fears of watchers were confirmed when a wave of deaths took place in Kano State shortly after the disease spread to the northern state. The statistics were initially grim and fearsome.

On the 25th of April, 23 deaths of high-profile residents were confirmed in Kano State. As the state government attempted to find answers to rumours about mysterious deaths in the state, the grave-diggers and mortuary attendants never stopped speaking to the media about their concerns. One elderly and experienced grave digger identified as Muhammad Inuwa revealed he had buried 34 corpses in 34 days which according to him was strange. A frontline national newspaper in Nigeria - Daily Trust put the death toll at 150 in just three days. There was no place to hide for Ganduje who maintained his stand that the deaths were not related to coronavirus. 

President Muhammadu Buhari swiftly announced the lockdown of Kano on the 28th of April, and also extended it by two weeks on the 18th of May to contain the disease. The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was forced to embark on its investigation to unravel the case of the mysterious deaths which was later linked to COVID-19 and the death toll was pegged at 587. 

It would be recalled that on the 1st of May, Kano started living up to the expectations of the general public on COVID-19 spread. It overtook Lagos on the NCDC chart by recording the highest number of daily infection in a single day. Out of 204 new cases of COVID-19 infection recorded, which took the country’s total to 1932, Kano had 80, while 45 were from Lagos. Events were so dire in Kano that neighbouring states like Kaduna and others accused the Kano State government of exporting the disease to them under the guise of deporting Almajiris.

Fast-forward to July 2020, everything appears to have turned around for good in Kano State. It has been able to contain the spread of the disease going by the number of infections. The daily figures are always in single digits and sometimes, low double digits. The death has also been relatively low and in some days, Kano records no cases at all. For example, on the 4th of July, just 2 cases were recorded from 415 samples collected according to an announcement by the Kano State Ministry of Health via Twitter. Also on the 12th of July, Kano recorded just 6 cases out of 280 samples collected.

In total, Kano has tested 17,568 samples, presently has 227 active cases out of 1,309 confirmed cases, 1,030 have been discharged and just 52 deaths recorded. This has remained mind-boggling especially with no special health guidelines implemented. These records motivated Ganduje to publicly brag that he is winning the war against the disease according to a statement released by Mr Abba Anwar, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor on the 4th of July.

Lagos on the other hand with the massive financial resources and high-quality human resources has been churning out big figures of coronavirus cases every day. There are rumours that some affected local government areas in the financial capital of Nigeria could be locked down. All the containment strategies of the Federal and state governments in Lagos appeared to be failing with blames now being transferred to residents.

Lagos and Kano share many similarities, both states are facing the same challenge and getting differing results. Lagos is undoubtedly making better containment efforts compared to Kano with a majority of the COVID-19 samples tested in Nigeria done in Lagos. Many have alleged that the Kano State government might be purposely keeping the number of infections low to avoid undue national attention as it faced in April and May. A popular joke on social media states that the easiest means of having no COVID-19 case is by not testing at all. Even U.S President Donald Trump once joked that America should slow down the testing as it was spreading panic and reducing his ratings. If inadequate testing or manipulation of figures is the case in Kano, how come the wave of deaths have stopped? Or is the problem still there but the media isn't looking deep enough?

We might never find answers to these questions. Ganduje might have found a secret COVID-19 vaccine or containment strategy that he is not interested in sharing with the outside world. For now, the controversial All Progressives Congress chieftain is winning the battle against the disease, at least on paper.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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