Despite there being over three million confirmed cases of infection worldwide and over 200,000 deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to be slowing down.
When Nigeria is compared to the United States and many countries in Europe and Asia, the West African country appears to be doing well. A different picture is, however, seen when it is compared to the situation in Africa.
Everyday since Wednesday, March 25, HumAngle has extracted figures related to African countries from the Worldometres coronavirus real-time statistical updates.
A comparison of Nigeria’s performance to the rest of the continent between March 26 and April 27 shows that the virus has spread more viciously in the country.
While certain countries like Namibia, Mauritania and Botswana have not recorded new cases in several days, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has continued to report an average of 100 cases on a daily basis.
Analysis by HumAngle shows that on March 26, with a total of 51 confirmed cases, Nigeria had the 13th highest number of confirmed cases on the continent. In contrast, exactly a month later, the country now occupies the seventh position with 1,273 confirmed cases ㅡ overtaking the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, among others.
In terms of the number of deaths recorded, Nigeria, as of March, had the ninth-highest figure of one, as it shared this position with Cameroon, Gabon, Niger, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. But in April, the death toll had increased to 40 ㅡ the seventh highest on the continent.
With respect to the number of confirmed cases, Nigeria has the 14th highest percentage increase of 2,400; and in the number of deaths recorded, it has the second-highest percentage increase of 3,900.
In March, Nigeria had only one COVID-19 fatality but this has grown to 40. The rate of the progression is second only to Cameroon’s which had one fatality in March and 56 as of Sunday, April 26.
Meanwhile, there are fears that Nigeria is grossly undertesting suspected cases of COVID-19 infection. Although the government’s strategy is “aggressive testing and detection”, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, admitted last week that there were challenges in getting enough people tested due to problems in surveillance, sample collection and transportation.
The problem is especially glaring in Kano State where numerous residents have recently died with COVID-19 suspected as the cause of death but officially the state has 77 confirmed cases with only one death.
After initially denying that there has been an unusual increase in deaths, the Kano State government later admitted that up to 640 deaths were recorded in the state within one week.
The Deputy Coordinator of the state COVID-19 Response Team, Dr Sabitu Shuaibu, said on Friday that there had been “about an average of 100 deaths daily from Kano metropolis”. He said that the government was setting up a system to determine the cause(s) of the deaths.
Ehanire also said on Monday that the Federal Government would send a high-ranking factfinding mission to the state “to diagnose what the situation is”.
The Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on Monday, blamed the fatalities on the lack of adequate testing because the COVID-19 testing laboratory in the state suspended operations nearly a week earlier.
“We are in a serious problem. I can tell you the situation is really bad and scary because what we solely rely upon in fighting the disease is the testing centre,” he said.
“This laboratory suspended its operation five or six days ago. There is also a shortage of sample collection equipment. It is not common equipment that you can go and buy in the market. Those whose samples were collected are still waiting to know their fate.
“There is a serious problem. We have been complaining that Kano needs more than one testing centre, right from the beginning of this [pandemic],” the governor added.
The testing centre was closed on Wednesday, April 22, due to contamination and on Monday, April 27, the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, promised that the centre would resume operations in the afternoon of the same day.
Ihekweazu added that 54gene, a private testing firm already complementing government efforts in Lagos and Ogun states, would start operating in Kano by the weekend.