ANKARA

As the world is busy fighting the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kano is witnessing mysterious death over the past few days, local media reported on Thursday.

As many as 150 people have died in the region, prompting investigations to determine whether they were related to COVID-19.

“In Nigeria, currently verbal autopsies [gathering information about symptoms and circumstances for a deceased] are underway in Kano state to identify the precise cause of the sudden and rapid increase in mortality in recent days,” Mallam Garba, senior special assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement on Wednesday.

“While some may wish to believe that there are other causes at play ike hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria, there are others who say it is COVID-19,” a local news website The Nation reported while quoting Garba.

He said the African country on the Gulf of Guinea is suffering from the shortage of personal protective equipment, testing kits, and other medical devices.

“We should wait and be prepared to accept the medical and scientific results of the autopsies and work together to confront the common enemy,” he added.

“The president and his government are with the people of Kano State and will not let them down,” he said.

Garba said if the deaths are linked to the COVID-19, then it will spell a serious development. He, however, assured that the best actions will be taken in close coordination between the federal and provincial governments.

“There is no time for energy wasted on political point-scoring, whether by current or former holders of office – or for any differences between state and federal administrations to be publicly aired, “he added.

Governor’s denial sparks reaction

On Wednesday, the recently-appointed governor of the region, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, denied that Kano had recorded any strange” deaths.

His, comments, however, sparked a series of reactions on social media.

“Please tell the truth, at what point did you carry out autopsy? These are Muslims and most of them died at home and were buried almost immediately according to Islamic rituals. Again I asked at what point was the autopsy conducted Mr. Gandola?,” said a Twitter user.

“How do you perform an autopsy on buried bodies? Did you exhume them?” another user pointed out.

According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, Nigeria has so far reported 1728 COVID-19 cases with 51 deaths.

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