Nigeria hit by deadly cholera outbreak amid rise in daily COVID-19 cases

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Nigeria has been hit in recent weeks by a spate of cholera cases targeting the north of the country and a rise in the public health crisis accompanied by an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“In the past two weeks, we had new and resurgence cases,” Dr. Bashir Lawan Muhammad, the state epidemiologist and deputy director of public health for the northern economic center of Kano State, told Reuters.

He said the rainy season made matters worse, while insecurity in the north, where authorities are battling Islamist militants and armed criminals, also hampered the authorities’ responsiveness.

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According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), 22 of Nigeria’s 36 states, as well as the federal capital Abuja, have suspected cases of cholera. The disease, which is caused by contaminated water, can be fatal within hours if left untreated.

The increase is concentrated in the north of the country, where health systems are least prepared.

At least 186 people have died from cholera in Kano since March, Mohammed said. The state is responsible for the majority of the 653 cholera deaths recorded by the NCDC nationwide. The nearby northern states of Bauchi and Jigawa are also among the worst affected, the NCDC said.

Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence said the states with the most fatalities showed a strong correlation with those that performed poorly in the health preparedness index published in May.

The cholera surge comes as daily COVID-19 cases hit their all-time high since March, raising fears of a third wave of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous country.

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