•S-East records least cases
•Virologist faults Kogi, Cross River, insists on increased testing nationwide
By Chioma Obinna
South-West is leading other regions in the number of coronavirus confirmed cases across the nation, statistics from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as of last Thursday, May 21 has shown.
On that date, Nigeria’s coronavirus confirmed cases hit 7,016, with 1,907 cases discharged and 211 deaths across the 34 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
As of January 2020, coronavirus was reported only in China, but by January 13, the virus had become a global pandemic as countries, including Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States (US), had begun to record coronavirus cases.
Nigeria recorded its index case on February 27 through an Italian.
Today, Nigeria is going through community transmission of the virus with 40, 043 samples tested as of last Thursday, according to the authorities.
Only two states were yet to record any case as of Thursday and, whereas Nigeria currently has 26 COVID-19 laboratories across 17 states, appreciable number of tests had not been done in most of the states by the NCDC. Medical laboratory experts say many people in the states may have been infected by the virus without knowing.
The distribution of the testing sites are 4 in Lagos, Ogun -1, Osun -, Oyo – 1, Edo – 2, Delta – 1, Anambra – 1, Imo -1, Rivers – 2, Ebonyi – 1, Abuja – 2, Kaduna – 2, Kano – 3, Plateau – 1,Sokoto -1, Adamawa – 1 and Borno – 1.
According to data obtained from the situation report published by NCDC on its website, South-West was leading with a total of 3,550 confirmed cases and 2,728 active cases as of last Thursday.
A total of 57 people in the region had lost their lives to the pandemic with each of the states in the South-West recording at least one death from COVID-19.
The statistics showed that Lagos remains the epicentre in the region and in Nigeria with 3,093 cases, 2,471 active cases, 582 discharged and 40 deaths, followed by Oyo with 190 cases, 137 active cases, 49 discharged and four deaths and Ogun with 183 cases, 104 active cases, 73 discharged and 6 deaths. Ondo had 22 confirmed cases, 6 active cases, 16 discharged and 1 death; Osun 42 cases, 5 active cases, 33 discharged and 4 deaths while Ekiti had the lowest number with 20 confirmed cases, 5 active cases, 13 discharged and 2 deaths.
However, the high number of cases in the South-West, according to critical health watchers, may not be unconnected with the high level of response to the pandemic by the various states in the region, particularly Lagos.
Although the NCDC has failed to make public the number of tests carried out state-by-state, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, on Thursday, disclosed that the state had carried out 16,000 COVID-19 tests.
According to him, the tests cost the state government about N800 million.
The unit cost of tests may also explain why some states have remained lukewarm in ramping up their testing capacity while some state governors see the tests as a waste of money.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization, WHO, has insisted on the importance of tests in an effort to flatten the curve of Covid-19.
Although, South-West leads in confirmed cases, the North-West had the highest number of deaths from the pandemic.
The region, as of last Thursday, had a total of 115 people dead on account of COVID-19.
More worrisome is the fact that each of the states in the region had recorded at least one death.
In terms of cases, the region had a total of 1,794 confirmed cases and 1,216 active cases.
Kano was leading with 875 cases, 716 active cases, 123 discharged and 36 deaths followed by Katsina with 303 cases, 239 active cases, 51 discharged and 13 deaths.
Following closely was Jigawa with 225 cases, 143 active cases, 78 discharged and 4 deaths.
Others were Kaduna with 170 confirmed cases, 82 active cases, 84 discharged and 4 deaths; Kebbi 32 cases, 11 active cases, 17 discharged and 4 deaths; Sokoto 113 cases, 25 active cases, 75 discharged and 13 deaths while Zamfara has 76 confirmed cases, 8 active cases, 63 discharged and 5 deaths.
In the North-East, there were 697 confirmed cases and 320 active cases.
Borno led in the region with 235 cases, 122 active cases, 89 discharged and 24 deaths, followed by Bauchi with 228 cases, 90 active cases, 133 discharged and 5 deaths; Gombe 144 cases, 49 active cases, 92 discharged and 3 deaths; Yobe 45 cases, 39 active cases, 5 discharged and 1 death; Adamawa 27 cases, 12 active cases, 13 discharged and 2 deaths, and Taraba with 18 cases, 8 active cases, 10 discharged and no deaths.
On the situation report in this region, critical health watchers say there is a need for the Federal Government to watch events as within a short period, the states there had recorded high number of cases with 35 deaths as of last Thursday.
Only one state (Taraba) was yet to record death in the region.
From the NCDC situation report, North-Central had recorded 647 confirmed cases and 424 active cases.
The FCT led with 446 confirmed cases, 290 active cases,142 discharged and 14 deaths, followed by Plateau with 70 cases, 55 active cases, 14 discharged and 1 death; Kwara 66 confirmed cases, 40 active cases, 25 discharged and 1 death; Nasarawa 38 cases, 18 active cases, 18 discharged and 2 deaths; Niger 22 cases, 16 active cases, 5 discharged and 1 death and Benue 5 confirmed cases, 5 active cases, no discharge or death while Kogi was yet to record a case.
As of Thursday, 19 people had lost their lives in the North-Central as a result of COVID-19.
In the South-South, a total of 288 confirmed cases had been recorded with 170 active cases. Edo led with 144 confirmed cases, 99 active cases, 39 discharged, 6 deaths, followed by Rivers with 80 confirmed cases, 52 active cases, 21 discharged and 7 deaths; Delta 31 cases, 13 active cases, 12 discharged and 6 deaths; Akwa Ibom 18 confirmed cases, 4 active cases, 12 discharged and 2 deaths; Bayelsa 7 confirmed cases, 2 active cases, 5 discharged and no death while Cross River was yet to record a case.
In terms of deaths in the South-South, a total of 21 people had lost their lives while two states were yet to record death and one state still to record any COVID-19 case.
While five regions in the country have recorded deaths, the South-East was yet to record any from the virus as of last Thursday even with total confirmed cases of 48 and 32 active cases.
In the region, Enugu led with a total of 16 confirmed cases, 10 active cases, 6 discharged and no death, followed by Ebonyi with 13 confirmed cases, 12 active cases, 1 discharged and no death. Others are Abia 7 confirmed cases, 6 active cases, 1 discharged and no death; Imo 7 confirmed cases, no active case, 7 discharged and no death while Anambra had the lowest cases in the region with 5 confirmed cases, 4 active cases, 1 discharged and no death.
Only two states, Kogi and Cross River, claimed to have taken measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus to their states.
While Cross River says it has mandated all residents to wear face mask, the Kogi government says it developed an app that can track symptoms of coronavirus.
Speaking on the scenarios in the six regions during an exclusive chat with Sunday Vanguard, a renowned virologist, Prof Oyewale Tomori, blamed the low number of positive cases in some states on lack of testing.
According to him, in a country where there is a movement of people, no state in Nigeria can claim that the virus is not there because the virus is moved by people.
“How do you explain a situation where some states have thousands and some have nothing? That does not make sense. But the answer is in the number of tests they have done so far”, Tomori said.
“If Kogi has carried out only one test and Cross River 7 and they are saying they have zero cases, that is foolishness.
“Can you compare 1 test and 7 tests to 16,000 done in Lagos? That is deceit.” He maintained that there is no border the virus cannot cross as it is moved around by people.
“None of the two governors of Kogi and Cross River can convince anyone that no one from places like Lagos and Abuja has entered their states since February 27 when the first index case was recorded in Lagos.
“It is unbelievable until they run lab tests. Even Nigeria has run over 40,000 tests compared to other countries that have run 200,000 tests if you look at the number of positives which is above 7, 000 in Nigeria compared to the number of tests we have done if you do the percentage of 7, 000 to 40,000.
“It shows that the percentage of positives in Nigeria has gone up.
“Nigeria seems to have more rates of positives than other countries. We are having more positives, so how can one or two states say they don’t have a case?”
Continuing, the virologist said the governors would have won the argument if they had locked the whole country from the start of the time of index case.
According to him, unconfirmed sources from the states’ hospitals said they were seeing cases but could not report as they were not allowed to test.
“Some of the meetings we hold with some of the medical staff even from the Federal Medical Centres in the (two) states, we were told they were seeing cases but they were not reporting and because they were not testing you cannot say there is COVID or not.”
Citing example of Kano which he said has overtaken FCT in terms of confirmed cases of COVID-19, Tomori insisted that it is only when states test that they will know whether they have cases or not.
He described the attitude of the two-state governments as absolute ignorance, saying irrespective of what they are saying, you can only find when you test.
He appealed to the governors to allow testing in their various states, adding that by not allowing laboratory testing for COVID-19, they are denying residents who may want to go for coronavirus test their rights.
“Even Nigerians living in those states have the right to test themselves to know if they are positive or not. They are denying them of their right.
“It is the right of every individual in Nigeria to be tested for COVID-19; if the states say don’t test, you are denying that person of his or her right”.
Experts say only time will tell if the claims by the two-state governments are genuine.
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