Kogi records only 5 COVID-19 infections, but 10 neighbouring states have 32,880 cases - Report

With just 5 cases of Covid-19 in Kogi State but about 32,880 infections so far in the 10 bordering states, is Kogi not a high-risk state?

On Tuesday, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 warned against travelling to Kogi State after classifying it as ‘high-risk.’

Mukhtar Muhammad, national incident manager of the PTF, who made the announcement, said Kogi was not testing.

“We have states where data is not coming forth. If you don’t test, your data will not be analysed, and if your data is not analysed, we won’t know the level of the pandemic in your state,” he said.

“Notable among the states that have not been reporting adequately are Yobe, Jigawa, Zamfara and Kebbi and, of course, Kogi that has not been reporting at all.”

Muhammad also mentioned that states that were not testing were at much higher risk than states currently known as ‘high burden states.’ He indicated that such states without tests had no testing facilities and isolation centres.

However, the state government rejected the high-risk tag given to it by the PTF. Kingsley Fanwo, commissioner for information and communication in the state, said that the PTF and NCDC’s intention was to drive away investors from the state.

“Despite their unreliable figures, Kogi emerged as the preferred investment destination of Nigeria in the last quarter of 2020. They felt embarrassed, and the best way to hit back is to create a picture of health crisis in the state.”

According to him, Kogi was the first state to procure face masks in thousands and distributed them to all the councils and the first to set up a team to combat the spread of the virus.

“We set up isolation centres with state-of-the-art equipment. We have done sensitisation more than any other state. So, if we don’t believe that Covid-19 exists, we won’t be doing all we are doing to ensure it doesn’t ravage our state.

“What we said and are still saying is that Covid-19 is not worth all the marketing going on just for a few to make billions; that we do not have to suffer innocent Nigerians while a few smile to the banks,” the commissioner said.

What the data is saying

Analysing COVID-19 data of states bordering Kogi shows that the state has conducted the lowest number of tests when compared with neighbours. It also has the lowest number of infections in the country. 

Kogi, a state of almost 3.5 million people, has tested a meagre 3,142 samples (about 0.089 percent of the population), the national situational report published January 22 by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed.

The bordering states with their total tests are FCT- 186,497; Enugu- 16,392; Edo- 27,879; Ondo-17,570; and Kwara- 16,240.

Other states are Niger- 14,403; Ekiti- 12,453; Benue- 12,389; Nasarawa- 16,681, and Anambra- 17,724.

The PTF, in October 2020, lamented how about 26 states, including Kogi, were yet to achieve the target of testing one percent of their populations. It also said only Lagos and the FCT had so far achieved this target.

As of 03 February, a total of 32,880 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in the 10 states bordering Kogi. Only five cases have been recorded by the North-Central state since the first index case was reported in Nigeria on February 27, 2020. Even as the second wave of the pandemic bites, Kogi is yet to record another case  since it reported its last case in June 2020.

Of the 10 bordering states, FCT, which is about 212 kilometers away, has recorded 17,243 confirmed cases. Others are  Edo- 3,862; Ondo-2,339; Kwara- 2,003; Nasarawa- 1,871; Enugu- 1,829; Anambra- 1,053; Niger- 789; Benue- 848, and Ekiti- 587.

While states are solely in charge of their coronavirus management and response, the NCDC supports and receives daily infection information.

However, these figures’ reliability has raised concerns due to several loopholes and challenges, including state officials not turning in enough test samples.

Health experts believe the virus must have infected more people than reported due to limited testing and low contact tracing mechanism. They say the situation can also mask the severity of localised outbreaks in slums and crowded cities with large clusters of people.

Yahaya Bello’s fictitious claims

Yahaya Bello, Kogi State governor, has, on numerous occasions, rejected the existence of the virus and was seen lately discouraging a crowd of supporters from taking COVID-19 vaccines.

He had told the cheering crowd, without evidence, that vaccines introduced to combat the virus was intended to kill people.

“…They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!” he said.

“These vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer and for several diseases that are killing us… We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during the polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.

“If they say they are taking the vaccines in the public, allow them take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it, but if you want to take it, open your eyes before you take the vaccines.”

He had also, in his new year broadcast, said his administration would not respond to the second wave of COVID-19 with ‘mass hysteria.’


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