Journal of Clinical Sciences

: 2020  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 91--92

COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria: A case study of Kano State – Challenges and lessons learned

Oluwakemi Ololade Odukoya, Uche Anne Omeje 
 Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Oluwakemi Ololade Odukoya
Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos

How to cite this article:
Odukoya OO, Omeje UA. COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria: A case study of Kano State – Challenges and lessons learned.J Clin Sci 2020;17:91-92

How to cite this URL:
Odukoya OO, Omeje UA. COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria: A case study of Kano State – Challenges and lessons learned. J Clin Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 23 ];17:91-92
Available from:

Full Text

The novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), originated from Wuhan, Hubei Province, in China on December 31, 2019, when the first outbreak was reported. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and a pandemic by March 11, 2020,[1],[2] given its explosive spread to several countries of the world within a short space of time.[3],[4] The first reported case of COVID-19 in Africa was in Egypt on February 14, 2020, while in Nigeria, it was reported on February 27, 2020. There were heightened fears as to the preparedness of the Nigerian government to respond appropriately to public health emergency of such magnitude, especially as regards the status of its fragile health system.

Kano State, the most populous state in Nigeria going by the 2006 national census figures, recorded her first case of SARS-CoV-2 on April 11, 2020;[5] over a short period of time, the state gradually became a blazing hot spot for COVID-19 infections with the number of confirmed cases rising steadily. Shortly before confirmation of the index case, a spate of unprecedented deaths were reported in Kano, however, the government could not confirm its connection to the ongoing pandemic.[6] The Kano state government claimed that investigations into the immediate and remote causes of the deaths pointed at complications from hypertension, diabetes, yellow fever, meningitis, and acute malaria.[7] Nonetheless, the claims could not be verified objectively as conclusions were drawn from verbal autopsies. On the other hand, medical experts at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in the state indicated that the hospital had been recording cases with COVID-19-like symptoms before its confirmation of index case.[6] Several elderly patients who visited the hospital were said to have presented symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing difficulties, and low oxygen saturation levels.[7]

Strict prevention and control measurements to control the spread of the virus including general lockdowns, obligatory home quarantine, bans on public gatherings, international flight restrictions and health education on proper handwashing, hygiene, and sanitation as well as social distancing were put in place by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and Federal Government.[5] There were delays in setting up surveillance systems for the prompt identification of cases, isolation, testing, and contact tracing. There seemed to be some challenges with public health preparedness and emergency response. Public awareness was poor, ignorance and denial of the pandemic seemed apparent in the state. Compliance with lockdown orders and other guidelines seemed suboptimal, as seen by the attendance of mass gatherings and youths organizing football tournaments. Furthermore, the prevailing presence of urban slums, dense population, inadequate access to potable water, fragile health-care system, and sharing of sanitation facilities with high degree of social mixing among the inhabitants of Kano may have made the implementation of hygiene and other public health measures necessary for the curbing of the coronavirus challenging.[8],[9]

This pandemic as a defining moment has reiterated the urgent need to position the health systems at all levels for effective delivery of health-care services. Weak health systems evidenced by an insufficient number of health workforce, poor infrastructure, inadequacy of drugs, and equipment are issues of great concern and have been highlighted by this pandemic. Hence, it is imperative to develop capacity that reaches beyond an immediate reaction in response to emergencies. In view of these, comprehensive efforts should be put in place to prepare the health systems at all levels to respond proactively to future outbreaks and other reoccurring diseases in communities. Coordinated and anticipatory planning at the state level in collaboration with federal government is also recommended. Poor living conditions and limited access to social services and amenities which have made the public health interventions such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders difficult to implement should also be addressed.


1Algaissi AA, Alharbi NK, Hassanain M, Hashem AM. Preparedness and response to COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia: Building on MERS experience. J Infect Public Health 2020;13:834-8.
2WHO. World Health Oranization, Situation Report for Africa, June 2020 In. Situation Reports on COVID-19 Outbreak Sitrep 17; 24 June, 2020. Available from:[Last accessed on 2020 Jun 24].
3Sberna G, Amendola A, Valli MB, Carletti F, Capobianchi MR, Bordi L, Lalle E, Trend of respiratory pathogens during the covid-19 epidemic, Journal of Clinical Virology (2020), doi: (In-Press).
4Lai CC, Shih TP, Ko WC, Tang HJ, Hsueh, PR. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): The epidemic and the challenges. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 2020;55:105924.
5NCDC. The Nigeria Center for Disease Control. NCDC Coronavirus COVID-19 Microsite. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 May 25].
6Maclean R. N Y Times, Kano-Nigeria-Hotspot. COVID-19 Outbreak in Nigeria is Just One of Africa's Alarming Hot Spots; 2020. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 24].
7Izundu CC. What Is Behind Nigeria's Unexplained Deaths in Kano? BBC News; 28 April, 2020. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Jun 24].
8Winter S, Dzombo MN, Barchi F. Exploring the complex relationship between women's sanitation practices and household diarrhea in the slums of Nairobi: A cross-sectional study. BMC Infect Dis 2019;19:242.
9Makoni M. Africa prepares for coronavirus. Lancet 2020;395:483.