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Nigeria says up to 600 deaths from Kano surge tied to virus

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said 979 people died in April in the northern trading hub in April

LagosNigeria | AFP | Nigerian authorities have linked the deaths of up to 600 people in the country’s second largest city to coronavirus after probing a surge in fatalities there.

Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said 979 people died in April in the northern trading hub in April.

A near-quadrupling of the mortality rate prompted the government to dispatch medical investigators to interview relatives and doctors over the causes of the “mystery deaths”.

“With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April, the team confirmed from graveyard records that a total of 979 deaths were recorded,” Ehanire said at a briefing on Monday, adding that most fatalities were above the age of 65.

“With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50-60% of the deaths may have been triggered by or (were) due to COVID-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments.”

Ehanire said the surge in deaths had subsided by the beginning of May and the “rate had reduced to the 11 deaths per day it used to be”.

Medical investigators had already put the bulk of the unexplained deaths down to coronavirus but had not previously given detailed figures.

Teams have also been probing reported dramatic increases in death rates from April and May in some regions neighbouring Kano.

Kano was put under lockdown in April to stem the spread of the virus and restrictions were eased last week.

Overall Nigeria’s official nationwide death toll from the virus remained at 361 on Tuesday and 49 for Kano state as officials counted only those who had tested positive for the disease.

Africa’s most populous nation has recorded a total of 12,801 infections and has tested just under 80,000 samples.

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