Over 150 people reportedly died of a “strange ailment” in Kano, Nigeria, last week over a two-day period from April 17-18, the country’s Daily Trust newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Nigeria has failed to confirm if the ailment was the Chinese coronavirus.
The group was so large that the bodies were buried across three cemeteries. On Tuesday, undertakers who also served as gravediggers in the affected cemeteries told the Daily Trust that they had received an unprecedented number of corpses in recent days.
“This is worrisome, we are becoming overwhelmed by what we are seeing here these days because, to me, the way people are dying is not ordinary,” said Bashir Mohammed, one of the undertakers at the Dandolo Cemetery in Goron Dutse, located in the Dala area of Kano.
According to the Daily Trust, the undertakers urged the government to investigate the “real cause” of the deaths; on Tuesday, Nigeria’s Ministry of Health said it was investigating the matter.
News of the deaths in Kano has “thrown many residents of the city into palpable fears … as they nurse the suspicion of possible community transmission of the ravaging COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] within the state capital [Abuja],” Daily Trust correspondents reported on Tuesday.
As of Monday, Kano had officially reported 59 coronavirus infections and one death, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC). Kano is the second-largest city in Nigeria, with a population of nearly four million people.
On April 17, the Nigerian president’s chief of staff also died from coronavirus in Abuja.
“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” the Nigerian presidential office said in a statement over the weekend. Abba Kyari, 67, was described as the “gatekeeper” to the president, Muhammadu Buhari, 77.
It is unclear if Buhari has been tested for the Chinese coronavirus.
At press time on Tuesday, Nigeria had officially reported just 22 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus, in addition to 665 infections.
Africa’s most populous nation, home to roughly 196 million people, Nigeria announced its first case of coronavirus on February 28.