While the Kano State government continues to deny the mysterious deaths being recorded within the state capital, residents of the city are living in fear as more burials take place daily.
After Daily Trust reported that over 150 people were buried in three cemeteries within the capital last weekend, the state government denied the report.
However, residents are still apprehensive over the unprecedented death rates.
Some residents who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday said though there was a little respite, Janaza prayers are still being conducted for multiples thought to have died from severe malaria and typhoid fever.
Within Zangon Barebari neighbourhood alone, our correspondent gathered that about 15 people died between Wednesday and Friday.
Similarly, an attendant at Dandolo Cemetery told Daily Trust Saturday in confidence that the number of deaths in Kano is still increasing, adding that “between Wednesday and Thursday we have buried about 67 corpses.”
Some bereaved families told Daily Trust Saturday that their relatives were on outpatient visitations to hospitals for various ailments but with the lockdown in force, coupled with the coronavirus scare at private health facilities, the deceased had some disruptions that kept them from accessing medical care, which might have resulted in their deaths.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the state, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital AKTH, the largest tertiary health facility in the state, and many public hospitals, suspended services at specialty clinics and restricted the number of outpatient visitation thereby leaving hundreds of patients without medical care.
Mustapha Muhammad Zakari, a resident of Gwammaja Quarters in Dala Local Government Area, lost his mother who had been battling diabetes for over a year.
He said his mother died in between hospitals after being rejected at Dala Orthopaedic Hospital.
“For over a year, my mother had been battling diabetes and she used to access care at a private hospital. But with the current reality on ground, the COVID-19, coupled with the lockdown in force, the hospital is not operating, as a result when her condition deteriorated last week we took her to Dala Hospital but she was rejected there and on our way to locate another hospital she died,” he said.
Aminu Ibrahim, a bereaved who spoke to our correspondent, said his father was diagnosed with malaria and typhoid fever before he died at a private clinic at Yankaba.
Aminu, like Muhammad, said his father was rejected at Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital before he was moved to the private clinic.
“My father died from severe malaria and typhoid fever. It was a brief fever and when it started, we took him to a private laboratory within the neighbourhood where they took his blood samples and diagnosed him with malaria and typhoid,” he said.
“After he had been diagnosed, we took him to Nassarawa Hospital but he could not be admitted on the pretext that there was no doctor. From there we moved to a private clinic at Yankaba where he eventually died the following day.”
Relating his experience, another resident, Sheriff Hadi Kabir, said his aged father died from malaria and typhoid fever at a public hospital.
“When he fell ill, I first took him to Nassarawa Hospital where he was admitted for two days,” he said.
“There his blood and urine samples were taken. His blood sugar level and blood pressure were all tested. On Tuesday, we went and saw the doctor and the doctor confirmed to us that his problem was malaria and typhoid.
“They gave him drugs and we came back home. Tuesday, Wednesday, on Thursday in the night, he became feverish again and we gave him the remaining drugs that we got from the hospital and on Friday, he went to town but started vomiting. When he returned home, we took him to Copper Stone Hospital, where he was admitted for one day. We noticed there was no improvement at the private hospital then we relocated to Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyu. There they conducted some tests on him and placed him on drugs and in the night of that day, he died.”
Munir Abdullahi, another resident of Zangon Barebari who lost his uncle on Monday, decried the prevalence of cases of malaria and typhoid in the area.
He said his diabetic uncle was diagnosed with malaria, which sent him to his grave.
“Before my uncle died on Monday, he had severe fever and he complained of headache with nausea,” he said. “When we took him to a private hospital along Miller Road, he was diagnosed with malaria. From there, they referred us to Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyu where he was put into live support and after some hours, he died,” Abdullahi said.
Abdullahi Abdulhamid Kabir said, “Between Saturday and Monday, we had seen rampant cases of unexplained deaths within our neighbourhood at Zango. I know about twenty people who had died within our neighbourhood between Monday and Friday apart from other similar cases we hear from neighbouring communities. It is very destabilizing, what we see here almost every day is Janaza prayers being conducted for multiples.”
The family of Mahmuda Muhamnad, who died at age 87, said that he died of hypertension and diabetes, which he suffered for a very long period.
Ado Isa said his sister who died on Wednesday did not exhibit any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
“My sister died of malaria. She had been battling severe fever, vomiting and headache. She did not even finish her drugs when she passed away,” he said.
It is on record that, Kano State experienced a similar spike in deaths in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 consecutively.
In 2017 and 2018 when the state was hit by an unexplained ailment, people resorted to traditional herbs called Rai-Dore.
Some boiled it and drank it while others boiled it and steam bathed with it others used used all methods.
It was also on record that in 2017 the state witnessed an increase in the death of women and children from what was later identified to be malaria.
The people of Kano State have come to terms with the spikes, and have even named the 2019 fever Gida-Gida [House to house] and the 2018 version was called ‘Merger.’
Daily Trust Saturday investigations revealed that this year’s deaths are considered different as they target mostly the elderly but no one who spoke to by Daily Trust Saturday thinks the COVID-19 pandemic could be the cause.
According to Dr. Usman Bashir of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), there are many issues that need to be taken into consideration first before one would be able to tell the reason behind the mass deaths of the elderly in the state but the need for a proper investigation is essential.
“It is clear that during pandemics like this, a lot of other ailments are usually neglected and also people are usually scared of hospitals. Similarly, the weather is also too harsh these days and can serve as a catalyst to aggravate already existing ailments,” he said.
He however stressed that, in most circumstances these elderly people are usually suffering from one ailment or the other that requires the use of some prescribed drugs and skipping or rather a cut in supply, especially during the lockdown can result in deaths.
He added that, the only sure way to understand exactly what the cause of the deaths are through autopsy, which he said is quite unusual in that part of the country, to determine the exact cause of death.
According to a civil society activist in Kano, Sagiru Farouk, Kano State has been facing such incidents for years now and the state government has remained adamant to its people plight.
“We are aware that the media has been doing its best in this respect, but instead of the state government to take proactive measures to address the situation, it keeps its distance from providing a lasting solution to the problem,” he said.
“Had it been the state government had taken the issue seriously, such incident wouldn’t have happened. Imagine since 2016 to date it kept coming back every year,” he said.
On Wednesday, the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, ordered investigation into cause of rising cases of deaths in the state.
Yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to Kano State governor, Abba Anwar, stated that Kano State government had directed for a swift investigation into the alleged mass deaths.
The spokesperson said the state government would not waste time to act on the outcome of the investigation.
Abba stressed that Kano state government was still wondering where the media got the figures of the deaths they were using in their reports.