Salihu Tanko Yakasai

In late December 2019, an epidemic broke out in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, with devastating consequences to the lives of the people and the economy of the country. From the epicentre of coronavirus in Wuhan, the disease has spread far and wide to countries in all the six continents, claiming over 315,000 people worldwide, thus becoming a pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). As of today, almost five million people have been infected by the virus. Countries like the United States, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ecuador are the hardest hit, with hundreds of thousands of people going to the great beyond. And, sadly, the infections and death toll are still counting as if on vengeance for what no one knows!

Even before the virus came to our shores, the Federal Government and the 36 state governments had taken some preventive measures to control the dreaded virus, which the WHO lauded. Happily enough, despite our large population, less than 6,000 people have been infected, with about 170 mortalities.

But this feat, as commendable as it is, should not be a cause for complacency. There should be no let or hindrance until we see the back of this monster that is COVID-19. Any slacking, irresponsible behaviour or recklessness at this time may lead to more devastating consequences for our lives and the future of our nation. This is more so with the recent warning by the WHO that Africa risks being the next epicentre of COVID-19, if these stringent measures are not sustained.

Even more advanced countries like the UK, the US, Italy and Spain have been overstretched and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the infections and the high death rates despite their technology-driven healthcare system, ultra-modern infrastructure and well-trained health personnel. The gory sights of dead bodies in body bags is a stark reminder that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is a collective responsibility of all and sundry – not that of the government alone.

In Kano State, the government had taken all necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state, even before the first index case was recorded, with the closure of all public schools, establishment of a task force committee on coronavirus, under the headship of His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the appeal fund committee, under the chairmanship of the vice-chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, to assist the victims and provide relief to the poorest of the poor, the closure of all public offices, the banning of passenger buses coming to the state, the one-week lock-down of the state, the provision of isolation centres for the quarantine and treatment of those infected, the closure of markets and banning of the congregation in mosques and churches, among others.

His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, had to personally intercept some vehicles conveying many people from coming into the state upon receiving intelligence reports that some people had been flouting the lockdown order.

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However, in spite of all these commendable efforts and measures, in the last few weeks, Kano State has seen a spike in the number of infections and is now the second in the country after Lagos State, with 761 cases and 35 deaths, while 93 have so far been discharged by May 16, 2020.

This sad scenario can be attributed to the irresponsible attitude of flouting lawful instructions, breaking lockdown restrictions, rumour-mongering, and politicisation of issues, when what this dangerous time demands is we all come together, shun politics and collaborate to confront this pandemic and avoid any attempt at creating panic among our people.

Many have paid scant attention to the fact that the novel coronavirus has no effective cure or vaccine yet. What health professionals could only do is to strengthen the immune system of the infected in order to escape from the deadly jaws of the COVID-19 disease.

As we wage this war against the pandemic sweeping across the entire globe like a raging bush fire, we should realise that wars are prosecuted and won only through deliberate collective and concerted efforts. We should stop living in denial about the mortal danger of this pandemic, shun baseless misinformation in the guise of conspiracy theories, avoid gathering of people of whatever nature, embrace social or physical distancing, strictly comply with the government’s stay-at-home directive, which is not as stringent as in other states, wear fac masks and practise personal hygiene by regularly washing our hands with soap and water, using hand sanitizers, if available, and, wait for this, constantly praying to the Almighty to hearken to our cries for the end of this pandemic.

I wish to also use this important medium to call on our dear compatriots to help the administration of His Excellency, Dr. Ganduje, OFR, to fight this virus. Let us be responsible enough and shun any form of negativity for the pandemic to be brought to its knees in the state, the country and the world at large, for this is a matter of life and death.

Lastly, it is indeed commendable to say that despite the challenges initially witnessed in Kano, especially with the issue of lack of testing centres and high mortality rate in the state, the government, in collaboration with the Federal Government’s Ministerial Task Force, coordinated by Dr. Sani Gwarzo, as well as support from other stakeholders like WHO, has now fully stabilised and is the leading in the fight against COVID-19 in terms of pioneering policies being implemented in the state as corroborated by the honourable minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the Federal Government Task Force press briefing of May 14, 2020. Indeed, such collective action by all stakeholders in Kano has yielded the desired results in turning the tide in the state, and as such we urge all to continue to support the state government till it brings to an end completely this deadly virus.

•Yakassai is Special Adviser, Media, to Governor Ganduje