TANKO YAKASAI DEBUNKED: No NCDC-AKTH Staff Tests Positive to COVID-19

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Tanko Yakasai, Debunked, NCDC-AKTH, Staff Tests Positive, COVID-19
NCDC-AKTH laboratory staff Umar Muhammad Jogana at work hours after Dr Yakasai said the lab was closed on Tuesday

The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Kano State has risen by 14 to berth at 73 by the end of Tuesday, according to official reports from the state ministry of health.

So far, only one death has been recorded, the report, which was shared on the ministry’s official Twitter handle, revealed.

Meanwhile, medical personnel in the state have denied that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Laboratory at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) was closed because “Some of the trained staff tested positive to COVID-19.”

Umar Tanko Yakasai, a medical doctor in the state, known to be a top opposition politician, on Tuesday posted on his Facebook page that the “COVID-19 Testing in AKTH is temporarily closed”, adding that “Some of the trained staff tested positive to COVID-19.”

He also said “Samples from kano and neighboring states are being sent to Abuja until remedial steps are quickly taken, including decontamination. It is believed that the infection is not strictly a lab acquired infection, but it is rather related to a recent high profile visit to the lab.”

Tanko Yakasai, Debunked, NCDC-AKTH, Staff Tests Positive, COVID-19
Dr. Yakasai’s post which has been debunked

Judicial Sketch on Wednesday spoke with some of the staff of the laboratory, and they debunked Yakasai’s claim, expressing shock that such unverified information came from a “trained medical doctor at a time the state, the country and the world is facing a pandemic situation.”

A staff at the laboratory explained that “we were still working at about 11.30pm on Tuesday when my attention was called to the Facebook post that the lab has been closed down. I told the caller that I was in the lab at the time. In fact, one of our colleagues even slept there because we worked so late and he could not go back to his residence in Jogana. He is here with me as I speak with you, a very hard-working person.”

Judicial Sketch was told that “there is a routine fumigation exercise in our laboratories at AKTH, and we close the labs before the exercise. Then 48 to 72 hours later, we resume work. We do it even at the Tuberculoses Laboratory. It is routine.”

He said he suspected that Dr Yakasai “got wind of the fact that we were about to close for the fumigation exercise, which is routine, and he went ahead to broadcast it, putting in some dangerous additives about staff of the lab testing positive to COVD-19. This is not true, and it is a bit embarrassing. It is embarrassing to him because he is a trained person, and embarrassing to us because we are just here busy working while information was flying around about us that we know nothing about.

“This fumigation exercise has been pending now for two days. It was just done today, Wednesday, around noon. In the next 48 or 72 hours, we shall resume work. And mind you, there is also the daily fumigation that we do, the type you can do and still be working. That one is daily.”

Our source said he was drawn to the laboratory from NCDC zonal TB reference laboratory where he was a quality assurance manager, while his other colleagues were drawn from the medical laboratory science department, Bayero University, Kano; Kano State ministry of health and AKTH microbiology department.

None of them has tested positive to COVID-19, he assured.

The chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kano branch, Sanusi Bala told our reporter that he found it strange that an epidemic situation would be used for political gains. “This does not help matters”, he simply said.

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