The myth about Covid-19
It is widely believed, according to some scientists, that Covid-19 originated from bats and spread to humans. The narrative is that in late 2019, someone at the now world famous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan was infected with a virus from an animal.
The rest is part of an awful history still in the making with Covid-19 spreading from its first cluster in China’s Hubel Province to a pandemic that has killed over a million people so far.
There is however uncertainty about several aspects of the origin of this disease that scientists are trying hard to unravel, including which species passed it to humans. They are trying hard because knowing how a pandemic starts is key to stopping another pandemic.
Professor Edward Holmes, of the University of Sydney was a co-author on nature study that examined the likely origins of the virus by looking at its genome. On the social media, he stressed that the identity of the species that served as an intermediate host for the virus is still uncertain.
More so, one statistical study looked at a characteristic of the virus that evolved to enable it latch onto human cells, saying that pangolins were able to develop this characteristic, but so also were cats, buffalo, cattle, goats, sheeps and pigeon. In fact, their study claimed to have ruled out pangolins as an intermediary altogether because samples of similar virus seen in the virus now circulate in humans.
Indeed, the study Holmes worked on suggested that the scenario in which a human being at the Wuhan market interacted with an animal that carried the virus was only one potential version of the Covid-19 origin story. Another was the possibility that a descendent of the virus jumped into humans and then adapted as it was passed from one human to another. Many were of the belief that there has been no substantial changes in the virus within the three months period of the pandemic indicating that the virus is well adapted to humans.
In Katsina state, the perception of the public was hitherto divided on the genuiness of the virus. Some were of the belief that the virus is an artificial disease that spreads to a particular group of people. Others looked at the virus as mere speculations of fake disease with the intention of collecting funds from the International Monetary Funds (IMF). At the same time, some do not even belief on the existence of the virus.
When state gov’t stepped in
This prompted Governor Aminu Bello Masari to announce at a press conference about the decision of the government to make available fund for the Ministry of Health to ensure hospitals are better positioned with basic requirements to contain the virus in the state.
Such basic requirements, according to Masari include personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supportive items to handle any eventuality should a confirmed case of corona virus be identified in the state. He explained that the state government was building an emergency infectious ward in General Amadi Rimi Specialist Hospital in addition to a temporary isolation centre provided at the Katsina General Hospital.
More interestingly, Governor Masari directed all travellers returning to Katsina from Lagos, Abuja and countries where confirmed cases of the virus had been made to be on self quarantine for 14 days, adding that such individuals should immediately report to the nearest health facility once they feel ill. Masari gave a further directives that 70 percent of the state ministry health personnel should be positioned to pay special attention to any individual who shows features suggestive of the virus.
Masari as well solicited the cooperation of people towards making it possible for the government to help in preventing the pandemic by Masari reminding the people that the disease mostly affects the respiratory system in the form of common cold. He added further that other symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain and difficulty in breathing leading to death warning that already, confirmed cases have been reported in Nigeria and other African countries.
According to him, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it do not leave that place”. Masari reminded the people about the words of the prophet that “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy,” saying that the prophet also strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection.
Most importantly, Governor Masari inaugurated two committees in his fight against the spread of the virus. These were Quick Response and Emergency Committee headed by the deputy governor, Mannir Yakubu and Enlightenment Committee headed by the commissioner for information, Alhaji Abdulkareem Yahaya Sirika. He also held series of meetings with the leadership of Muslims and Christian communities under the umbrella of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and deliberated on the progress made in relation to the directives issued on the suspension of congregations of Jummat prayers and church services across the state as part of strategy to control the spread of the virus.
Lately, the state has recorded one death and three cases in Daura town, one of the influential cities that hosts the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his entire relatives.
Masari was vividly disturbed with the situation and quickly declared a total lockdown of Daura town from 7:00 am on Saturday April 11 2020. He announced that out of the 23 samples sent to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja, three have tested positive, saying they are the widows of the deceased, Dr Aliyu Yakubu and his two children.
The people’s concern
On the other hand, people are accusing the government for poor response due to the non-availability of testing equipment in the state as the samples must spend days before the results can be available, as well as inadequate isolation centres.
The absence of federal government’s response despite the lockdown order and lacks of funds to handle the spreading of the virus in the state equally gave room for anxiety among the concerned people in the state.
It is in record that Katsina state has over seven million people and a lengthy international border. This, they said calls for more efforts and resources to be committed towards prevention of the pandemic in the state.
Investigation also shows that the state government spent millions of naira soliciting for assistance across the world on Covid-19 even before the appearance of the disease in the state, particularly under the office of the secretary to the state government, Alhaji Mustapha Inuwa, where over N4.7 million was spent as appeal funds raising advert at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) yet the responses remain slow beside the manageable contributions of some contractors who generated nearly N200 million.
The fact remains the same as the slow response is speakable across the state since the burden of controlling Covid-19 in the state would continue to be on the shoulder of Masari alone. This is because at the moment, none of the three senators or 15 House of Reps members came out with any assistance to the state just as ministers from the state and directors general and managing directors appointed into government agencies merely visit the state and leave without any assistance.