A former diplomat defied social distancing order by the government until his status revealed that he was Covid-19 positive. BASHIR MOHAMMED writes on how the development stirred uneasiness in Kano.
Covid-19 is a worrisome pandemic that Kano state is fighting with sheer ferocity just the way the scourge itself is fighting humanity like wild fire.With Lagos, Abuja, Ogun and other states leading the casualties figures, the sad and regrettable development prompted the state government to swing into action by making concerted effort to ensure that people are shielded from contracting the deadly virus.
To this end, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje mooted the idea of closing schools and government- owned institutions as a precautionary measure. It also emphasised constant use of hand sanitiser as a way of ensuring safer hygienic condition in addition to setting up a high-powered task force headed by Alhaji Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, his deputy.
The state commissioner for health, Dr Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, was saddled with the task of keeping journalists posted on situation report and updates. Since then, the commissioner has been consistent about informing the press that since the outbreak of the virus in the country, the state had not recorded a single case of infection and that it had tested many suspicious cases but were eventually negative.
The shocking news
However, with the virus spreading in all the nooks and crannies of the country with high intensity, instilling psychological trauma in the minds of the people, courtesy of extensive media spotlight, the people of Kano last Saturday April 11, 2020 woke up to the sad news that a prominent Kano citizen, Ambassador Kabir Rabiu, had tested positive.
This former diplomat is someone with a revered pedigree and a credible human persona. His contribution to the political and economic development of the country made him to stand tall among his peers.
At the age of 75, according to those who were irked by the revelation that he was infected by the Corona virus and chose to keep a sealed lip, he had completely destroyed his good reputation accentuated by his failure to self-isolated himself.
For reasons best known to him, he failed to distance himself from the public, visited places of his choice with the people interacting with him having the premonition that he was a Corona virus carrier
Daughter asks for forgiveness
He however succeeded in carving a negative niche for himself in the court of public opinion in spite of the public apology and forgiveness sought on his behalf by his daughter, who in an emotion- laden pronouncement appealed to the people of Kano to forgive her father for what he described as a regrettable error.
She said, “My father is a complete and responsible gentle man who always want to avoid any controversy. What he did was not premeditated or intentionally orchestrated to spread the virus for people to get infected. It was not his intention to offend people. Forgive him and put what has happened behind. He is a good man and highly responsible,” she said.
When Ganduje announced the first outbreak
Governor Ganduje had penultimate Saturday announced that the state had recorded the first Corona virus and explained how it happened.
He said the patient who is a 75-year-old retired civil servant and a former ambassador was said to have travelled to Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja and returned to Kano on March 25, 2020.
“Specifically what happened was that a 75-year-old retiree and a former ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria travelled to Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja and came back to Kano on March 25 2020.
“Three days ago, he made a call to our medical team inviting them for him to be tested voluntarily and the medical team went to his residence, a sample was taken along with nine other and taken to Abuja. Today, we got the result that one sample proved positive while nine other samples proved negative. “So today it is confirmed that we have one corona virus patient here in Kano, a 75- year- old retired civil servant and a former ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“He has no history of traveling abroad recently at least for the last six weeks. But his medical records have shown that he had heart complications and probably this has aided in this particular circumstance which he found himself,” the governor said.
Meanwhile the patient is at the Kwanan Dawakin Kudu Isolation Centre receiving treatment Ganduje further explained that the state government is making all efforts possible to ensure that all those he had contact with are traced, tested and isolated to prevent the spread of the virus in the state.
“But what we are busy doing now, especially the medical team is to trace his contacts right from the time he came back to Kano on the 25th of March 2020. “It was discovered that he attended a marriage ceremony; so a census has been taken of those who came in contact with him. Right now, they have been pushed and samples of them taken.
“He also attended a mosque prayer last Friday. Those who were in contact with him were identified and their samples are being taken.
“Also when his sample was taken and sent to Abuja, before the result was brought back, he fell sick and he went to a private diagnostic centre. The team has visited the place and I have ordered the closure of that private hospital after adequate census was taken of all those who came in contact with him including the doctors and the nurses and all those who had contact with him. Also the private diagnostic centre which he visited has also been closed down.
“Also in his house, those who visited him as well and we learnt that he went to a friend’s house and had dinner, the house owner was requested to make himself available for the test which he did and also made his entire family members available.
“Luckily enough here in Kano today, we don’t need to take the samples to Abuja, the federal government has already established a testing centre at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Right now, all our samples are there for further investigation.
“Now, the tracing of his contacts has continued and we want to make sure that 100 percent of those who came in contact with him are identified and tested accordingly. This is a task that is going on now.”
Addressing the people of the state on measures to be taken by the state government on the recent development, the governor barred tricycle commuters from carrying more than one person per drop, with a warning that it would not be business as usual.
“The problem now is that members of the public must know that business is not as usual. What we were hearing in far away other states has now come into Kano state; therefore, movement of the people must be restricted. The tricycle commuters must take only one person at a time and security agencies are being fully briefed on this issue. We are holding discussions with the Ulama pertaining Friday mosques.
“Already, we have been emphasising social distancing in the mosques. The provision of sanitary solutions have all been provided all over, but that is not enough; we must take drastic action to see that social distance is maintained and the Ulama would be consulted to see that further action is taken.
“Concerning the concentration of people in our markets, that also cannot be as usual. We would hold discussion with the business community and find out those markets that are absolutely necessary to operate for members of the public.
“So a firm decision would be taken. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a very serious issue and people must take this issue very seriously. We must remain in our homes and protect our lives. We must take all measures that have been prescribed in order to prevent our population from perishing. We want you to bear with us, we know the measures we are taking are harsh measures, but it is better to take these measures than to loose your life,” he noted.
Health workers to get enhanced pay
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Finally, Ganduje also promised to provide protective facilities for frontline medical workers as well as attractive remuneration to show appreciation for their services to humanity.
“Pertaining to the health workers, we are taking adequate steps to provide protective items so that they don’t get exposed. We are also working out some remunerations for those frontline doctors, pharmacists and nurses and to see what package we can give them in order to make them feel that they are being appreciated.
“We are working out this package and very soon, it would be released to the health workers,” he declared.
However, with the latest heart-rending revelation exacerbating fear in the minds of residents of the ancient city of Kano, what remains to be seen in the next few days is the final result of the blood samples taken from those who presented themselves for medical test after their interaction with the former ambassador.