The Governor of Bauchi State Bala Mohammed has said 150 and not 300 people have died in the last 30 days as reported in the media.
It was reported that 300 people have died in Azare in Bauchi State from a yet to be identified ailment.
The Governor who made the statement while addressing the press on Sunday said, “it’s 150 people that have died in the last 30 days, and not 300 people as reported in the media.”
Bala also imposed a total lockdown of the three LGAs.
He said “Total lockdown on the 3 LGAs is necessary; we just got result of about 66 cases, 42 of which were from Azare alone. And we have found out that most of the cases from Azare is as a result of community transmission; people are not adhering to guidelines in that axis, because there have been transaction going on between the people of Azare and Kano were the covid-19 pandemic is high.”
Reports over the number of deaths in Azare generated pandemonium.
A former member of the House Representatives from Bauchi State Ibrahim Mohammed Baba gave a report on it in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting urgent action on “massive outbreak of COVID-19 that claimed many lives in Azare”.
But the Bauchi State Deputy Governor, who is also the chairman of the state’s taskforce on COVID-19 and lassa fever, Senator Bala Tela, debunked the report of mass deaths, saying the number was exaggerated.
The deputy govenor who addressed newsmen at Government House in Bauchi said, “I don’t know the exact number of casualties, but what I have gathered is that about six persons died every day for a period of seven days.”
A resident of Azare, Shehu Baba Azare, said the deaths in the last two weeks was worrisome because in the Azare cemetery, 301 bodies were buried in 14 days.
“The death rate in Azare is unusual because a total of 301 was registered at the cemetery within 14 days and the dead were from 60 years and above but we don’t know the cause so far,” he said.
A village heads in Azare who pleaded anonymity told Daily Trust on Sunday that the report of mass deaths was not true, saying, “What I know is that many people have died in the town but the issue of mass death is not true.”
Another resident, Muhammed Musa, said; “As at Friday, there were 301 fresh graves at the Azare cemetery, dug in the last 14 days. Anyone can come to Azare to verify this information, you can see for yourself the graves.”
“There is a register of the number of the people who died within this period at the Azare cemetery, if you want to verify you can do so. The only thing I cannot confirm is the cause of their death but 301 people died within 14 days in Azare,” Musa said.
He decried the way people escorted corpses to the cemetery, adding, “No observance of any social or personal distancing against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worrisome because if what is killing people in Azare is Coronavirus, the level of community infection would be catastrophic.”
The former lawmaker had in a letter dated May 8, 2020 addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari drew his attention to what he termed a “massive outbreak of coronavirus in Azare town and environs” which resulted in over 100 fatalities in the last one week, and had thrown the entire area into great mourning, panic and confusion.”
The chairman, Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Chairman Surveillance and Contact Tracing sub Committee on COVID-19, Dr Rilwani Mohammed, said the report was a false alarm.
“The report of mass deaths in Azare is not true because yesterday (Friday) the State Taskforce Response Committee on COVID-19 including it’s chairman who is the Deputy Governor Senator Baba Tela, Commissioner of Health, Officials of World Health Organization (WHO) and other members of the committee were in Azare. There is no massive death as claim by the former lawmaker. The people of Azare held a meeting with the committee and nobody spoke of mass deaths. This is not true,” he said.