NIGERIA – Nigeria has been hit by a surge in cholera cases in recent weeks, focused on the country’s north and adding to a public health crisis accompanied by a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“In the last two weeks we had new and resurgence cases,” Dr. Bashir Lawan Muhammad, the state epidemiologist and deputy director of public health for northern economic hub Kano State, said.
He said the rainy season was making it worse, while insecurity in the north, where the authorities have been battling Islamist militants and armed criminals, was also hindering the authorities’ ability to respond.
Twenty-two of Nigeria’s 36 states, as well as the federal capital territory Abuja, have suspected cases of cholera, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC). The illness, which is caused by contaminated water, can kill within hours if not treated.
The surge has been focused in the north of the country, where health systems are least prepared.
At least 186 people had died in Kano of cholera since March, Muhammad said. The state accounts for the biggest share of the 653 cholera deaths recorded in the country as a whole by the NCDC.
Nearby northern states Bauchi and Jigawa are also among the hardest hit, according to the NCDC.
Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence said the states with the most fatalities showed a strong correlation with those that performed poorly in its health preparedness index published in May.
The cholera surge comes as daily COVID-19 cases hit their highest since March 2020, raising fear of a third wave of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.
Nigeria has not been as hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as other parts of the continent, with just over 173,000 cases and 2,149 deaths confirmed since the outbreak began.
However, Nation Centre for Disease Control officials recently confirmed that they had detected the Delta variant, putting officials nationwide on alert. The NCDC did not say when the infected traveler had arrived.
“From the beginning of July, we started to experience a steep increase in the number of daily confirmed cases, with the test positivity rate going from 1.1% at the end of June 2021 to its current rate of 6.6% as at 8th of July 2021,” Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said in a statement.
Lagos state, home to the commercial capital, has been the epicenter of Nigeria’s COVID-19 pandemic. It has confirmed 60,366 cases since the outbreak began, nearly 36% of the country’s total.
Just 1% of Lagos state residents have received two doses of vaccines against the novel coronavirus.
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