North has 54% of cases, 70% new infections – Northern govs

• WHO hails Nigeria’s response to Kano massive community transmission

 Northern governors on Wednesday said the North accounted for 54 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The governors, who stated this at their fourth teleconference on the COVID-19 response, also disclosed that the region accounted for 70 per cent of the new coronavirus infections in Nigeria.

The Northern Governors’ Forum stated this in a statement by   Dr Macham Makut, the  Director of  Press and Public Affairs to the forum’s Chairman and Plateau State Governor, Solomon Lalong.

Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organisation said the  number of COVID-19 confirmed cases reported in Africa was far below the figure it expected from the continent.

It added that while the expectation was that the number of cases in West Africa would have been 1,260, 871 by May 17, the region recorded 24,345 cases.

The Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said this on Wednesday during the Africa.com webinar series session 6 tagged “What’s the real story behind Africa’s COVID-19 figures?”

At the session,  the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed that 10 local government areas  accounted for 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Although Nigeria recorded its COVID-19 index case on February 27, as of Tuesday, the country had had 6,401 cases of the virus. No fewer than 1,734 patients, who contracted coronavirus had been treated and discharged, while 192   people had died of the virus.

Lagos State has the highest number of cases with 2,755, followed by Kano State, which has  842 and the Federal Capital Territory with 427 cases.

Cases that have been recorded so far in other parts of the North include Katsina, 281 cases; Bauchi, 224; Borno, 227; Sokoto, 113, Zamfara, 84  and Kaduna, 152.

At their teleconference on Wednesday, northern governors expressed disappointment that despite several measures taken, including presidential orders, there were still violations as people moved from one state to another through compromised and use of illegal routes.

They promised to take further measures, including the deployment of members of their cabinets and civil servants where necessary, to protect their people.

The governor stated, “The forum resolved to continue its appeal to the Federal Government for support to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, as the northern region now has about 54 per cent of the national cases and 70 per cent of new infections.”

They also vowed to continue   the evacuation of Almajirai, adding that the exercise would strictly follow laid down protocols for profiling, quarantining, testing, transport, handing and taking over as well as reintegration.

Africa has COVID-19 cases fewer than we expected, says WHO

The WHO, according to the snippets on the Africa.com webinar series session,  posted on Africa.com, said Africa was succeeding in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Its  Regional Director  for Africa,  Moeti,  at the session stated  that the WHO expected higher COVID-19 cases than what had been recorded in  Africa.

Moeti added that while the expectation was that the number of cases in West Africa would have been 1,260, 871 by May 17, the region recorded 24,345 cases.

She stated, “We are seeing fewer cases (in Africa) than expected.”  The WHO regional director said while West Africa recorded 16 per cent daily growth rate of confirmed cases before April 1, the rate had gone down to 6.5 per cent

In the case of Central Africa, she said the growth rate reduced from 14 per cent before April 1 to four per cent. She said while the number of cases expected in the region on May 17 was 149,353, the cases reported as of that day was 8,021.

She stated, “We are seeing fewer cases than expected. For West Africa, it was 16 per cent of daily growth rate before April 1. Number of cases expected on May 17 was 1,260, 871 but number of cases reported was 24,345. Daily growth rate is now 6.5 per cent.

“For Central Africa, it was 14 per cent of daily growth rate before April 1. Number of cases expected on May 17 was 149,353, but number of cases reported was 8,021. Daily growth rate is now 4 per cent.”

Africa’s measures in curtailing COVID-19 working – WHO

The WHO chief said public health and social measures appeared to have slowed the spread of COVID-19 across the continent.

“The WHO believes that Africa’s measures of curtailing the virus are working and are reporting a slowing down of the rate of spread,” Moeti declared.

She said countries with higher testing levels per 10,000 people and sharing of date suggested a true picture of the outbreak.

Nigeria responded quickly to Kano community spread – WHO

Moeti lauded the Federal Government’s response to the outbreak of the virus in Kano saying, “For COVID-19 in Kano State Nigeria, authorities responded quickly to community alerts.”

She identified the key challenges in COVID-19 response to include community misconceptions and misinformation; need to balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods; as well as global supply shortages and transport challenges.

50% of Nigerian cases reported in 10  local government areas – NCDC

The NCDC boss disclosed that about 50 per cent of confirmed cases recorded in Nigeria were from 10 local government areas.

He said, “We are now looking at our surveillance data with a bit more depth. About 50 per cent of all COVID-19 cases are reported in 10 high incidence local government areas. We’ll focus our resources in areas where they are needed most.”

Ihekweazu further disclosed that the centre was using SORMAS, a software for outbreak and epidemic surveillance, to monitor data for responses most recently on Lassa fever and COVID-19.

He stated, “As COVID-19 in Nigeria accelerates, we utilise @SORMAS_NG software for real-time data collation and analysis.

“This data guides our response strategy to the outbreak and ensures our country leadership stay informed,” he added.

32 doctors, others health workers test positive in Bauchi, Zamfara

Meanwhile, no fewer than 32 medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, have been infected with COVID-19 in Bauchi and Zamfara states.

The Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Rilwan Mohammed, and the Vice-chairman of the Zamfara State branch of Nigerian Medical Association,  Dr  Mannir Bature, stated this in separate interviews on Wednesday.

The NMA and the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives have consistently decried non-provision of personal protective  equipment for health workers.

The NMA President, Dr Francis Faduyile, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the PPE should be provided for not only  COVID-19 frontline workers, but all  health personnel in all hospital wards.

The Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency,  Mohammed, in an interview with The PUNCH, said  24 medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state since March 24 when the index case was recorded in the state.

He said 12 of them were medical doctors in   Azare, which had been identified as a high risk area and in Bauchi, the state capital.

Mohammed, who is also the Chairman of the Surveillance and Contact Tracing sub-committee of the state Task Force on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, said that 14 of the affected health workers had been discharged from isolation.

He said, “So far, we have 24 medical personnel in Bauchi State who have contracted coronavirus since the state recorded its index case.

“We have 12 medical doctors in both Azare in the Katagum Local Government Area and in Bauchi, the state capital, while the remaining 12 are nurses and physiotherapists.

In Zamfara State, the NMA Vice-Chairman,  Bature, told journalists that eight doctors had tested positive for COVID-19.

Bature declared that, “out of about 80 confirmed cases recorded so far in the state, 10 per cent are doctors who came into contact with the virus in the line of duty while trying to save lives especially at emergencies.”

Kano ulamas oppose lifting ban on congregational prayers

Meanwhile, the Kano State Council of Ulamas on Wednesday  opposed  the decision of  the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to allow mosques to resume group prayers.

The Islamic clerics warned the decision would increase COVID-19  infections in the state.

In an interview with  the BBC Hausa Service, the Chairman of the council, Sheik Ibrahim Khalil, said the government should have taken into consideration,  the  spread of the virus.

Recall that Ganduje a few days ago announced the lifting of the ban on congregational and ‘Eid’ prayers. He, however, said  congregants must continue to obey social distancing and the use of the face mask.

Stay at home, Kano Ulamas tell people with underlying illnesses

But in the BBC Hausa interview Sheik Khalil said, “In this period of epidemic, since the government has allowed congregational prayers to hold, individuals can also decide for themselves not to risk their lives. Especially those with underlying illnesses should stay at home instead.

“Those that feel they can go to mosque, if they don’t have any problem can go ahead and pray in congregations. There is no sin for anyone that doesn’t go to mosque as far as he has concrete reasons.”

However when contacted, a top government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The PUNCH that the governor’s decision was based on “recommendations by 30 Islamic scholars in the state.”

He said the 30 scholars who were representatives of all the sects in the state, asked Ganduje to allow Friday prayers to hold as well as Eid prayers.

He said the governor gave his directive “after a lengthy consultation with the Islamic scholars and other government officials.

According to the official, during the meeting, each of the representatives of the sects was given the chance to express his mind on whether they were in support of lifting the ban or not and the majority supported lifting the ban.

He added that after the meeting, Ganduje went ahead to select three of the ulamas from the 30 representatives and appointed them as members of the committee charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all Muslims comply with physical distancing and use of face masks during the Friday and Eid congregational prayers.

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