The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, has said he was infected with COVID-19 during a visit to Abuja and that four other persons later contracted the virus from him.
El-Rufai was one of the five panelists from across the continent in a webinar on Wednesday organised by Africa.com and the Harvard Business School.
“I was the first to contract the virus. I contracted it in Abuja and infected four other people,” he narrated during his presentation.
The governor tested positive for COVID-19 in March and was in isolation for four weeks before he twice tested negative.
He said he believed he contracted the virus in Abuja and later transmitted it to four other persons who he did not name.
He said the virus was a wake-up call but also expressed concern about inter-state transmission, especially from neighbouring states.
“In Kaduna, it has not spread as fast as in other states because of the extraordinary steps we took to contain the spread of the virus.
“Some of my neighbours, unfortunately, have not taken such steps, so we are now at great risk from what is happening in Kano and Katsina.
“Last week we took 148 Almajiris from Kano and when we took them, we put them in an isolation centre, tested them and some were positive. Five out eight who had symptoms were positive.
“By this morning another 16 out of the 40 we took out of random were positive.
So, the Almajiris from Kano have brought in 21 cases to Kaduna,” the governor stated.
The Federal Government extended the lockdown in Kano by two weeks on Monday following concerns about a series of unexplained multiple deaths last week.
The governor explained that his state had to extend the lockdown for another 30 days because of its limited resources and health facilities.
He said, “We don’t want to find that we’re suddenly overwhelmed, so we have spaced things out in a way that we can handle more easily.”
He took a swipe at the elite, saying in spite of the unpleasant consequences of COVID-19, a major upside was that it would force the elite to pay attention to the country’s poor healthcare system.
“We are all locked down,” El-Rufai said. “We cannot go out for medical attention however serious the situation may be. We’re locked down, we can’t go anywhere. We’ll have to start taking our healthcare system seriously. That is a major opportunity.”
He said Kaduna had so far tested 200 people for the virus and admitted that it was inadequate for a population of 10 million people.
He however said in the second phase of the state’s lockdown, which started on Monday, the government had enlisted the help of the telecommunication companies for the phone numbers of subscribers who spend less than N100 per month on top up.
He said such persons would be covered in the state’s expanded reach out in the second phase.
He said the government spent N500m in the first phase of the lockdown to buy food and other essentials for the poor communities, adding that the state’s informal sector, which comprises 60 per cent of the population, had been severely hit by the public health crisis.