Nigeria Confirms 500 ‘Mystery Deaths’ Due to Coronavirus

Female worshippers wear face masks as they arrives at Ramat Square Eid grounds in Maiduguri ahead of the Eid al-Fitr prayer on May 24, 2020. (Photo by Audu MARTE / AFP) (Photo by AUDU MARTE/AFP via Getty Images)
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About 60 percent of “mysterious deaths” recorded in Nigeria’s northwestern Kano state in recent weeks “were traced” to the Chinese coronavirus, Nigeria’s Premium Times reported on Monday.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire made the announcement on Monday at a presidential task force briefing on coronavirus. In April, Kano state reported nearly a thousand deaths from “unknown ailments,” about 979, but the government at the time refused to attribute the deaths to Nigeria’s coronavirus epidemic.

According to the newspaper, the Kano state government’s preliminary reports on the mysterious deaths suggested that “many of the victims died from malaria and cerebrospinal meningitis.” The national government later deployed a team of investigators from its Ministry of Health to Kano to probe the deaths and determine their true cause.

Now, Ehanire said the national health ministry has determined that “50 to 60 percent of the deaths [in Kano in April] were traced to COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], it means between 490 and 587 of the deaths were traced to the virus.”

“With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April over a five-week period, the team confirmed that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal LGA [local government areas] in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day … [the] investigation suggests that between 50-60 percent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments,” the health minister explained, adding that most of the people who died were over the age of 65.

The Premium Times reports that Kano’s newly confirmed coronavirus death toll from April is “more than double the deaths attributed to the virus in [all of] Nigeria.” At press time on Tuesday, Nigeria had officially reported 12,801 infections and 361 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus, although the true numbers are believed to be much higher.

The newspaper also revealed on Monday that more “unexplained” deaths had also been reported in other regions in recent weeks. In the states of Jigawa and Bauchi, roughly 150 people have reportedly died from “unknown ailments.” Health Minister Ehanire said on Monday that the ministry was currently investigating these deaths to determine their true cause as well.

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