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Covid-19: Kano to rely on ‘verbal’ autopsy for mysterious deaths


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The Kano State Covid-19 response team says it will rely on ‘verbal methods’ while probing the cause of death of the hundreds of people that have died mysteriously in the state in the last one week.

The Coordinator, Technical Response Team, Covid-19, Dr. Tijani Hussaini, said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.

He said Kano, being a predominantly Muslim state, usually buries its dead almost immediately which, therefore, makes it nearly impossible to determine the cause of death of a person.

“In medical practice, there is what you call verbal autopsy. What we are doing is going back in history to see if we can make connections.

What we are doing is verbal autopsy to ensure that we get to the root of this seemingly increasing death rate in Kano.

“Investigations will inform decision making and the Kano State Government will take it seriously,” Hussaini said.

He said the state government also received reports from social media about the mysterious deaths but the state lacked records of normal death rates in the state and so there was no baseline with which to compare the recent deaths.

The coordinator added, “We have instituted several measures to ensure that we get to the bottom of this. As I speak to you, our data collectors are out in the field trying to find out, get data on the symptoms that led to the death of these people.

“Remember that Kano is a traditional Muslim place and usually autopsies are not conducted. We do not have burial registers and so it is difficult to say categorically that there is an increase in the number of deaths.”

The coordinator said the probe was being conducted in conjunction with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and other partners.

“You hardly find families taking their dead for autopsy even when they die in hospitals and this is the traditional practice in Kano and many other states in northern Nigeria. Remember that Islamic rites demand that you bury your dead as early as possible.

“And a lot of these deaths do not occur in facilities or hospitals,” he said.

The coordinator said Kano State has over 60 graveyards apart from the small graveyards used by little communities.

Hussaini added, “Kano State has over 60 graveyards. When I say graveyards, I mean graveyards and this excludes the small graveyards. So, looking at the number of graveyards in Kano, it means a large population must have access to bury their dead.”

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