From Duku Joel, Damaturu
The wave of strange deaths in some northern states has spread to Yobe.
In the state’s commercial city Potiskum, no fewer than 68 bodies have been buried in three days.
There have been suspicions and fears that some of the people may have died of complications arising from COVID-19 infection.
Strange deaths have been recorded in Kano, Jigawa and Bauchi states.
Commissioner for Health Mohammed Lawan Gana, who is also the Vice Chairman of the State Committee on the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 said the government was investigating the causes of the strange deaths.
According to him, the death could not be completely linked to the current pandemic neither could it be denied as having no association with the virus.
He added that the government had deployed a team of health personnel to conduct verbal autopsy, a process must be meticulous and systematic to guard against mistakes.
The commissioner said: “These rumors happened. People die due to various causes. We may not say it is coronavirus. When this kind of thing happens. We have our standard ways of doing things. We have sent out a team to go to the local government to establish that these deaths are happening and the causes.
“But in addition to that, we have built in intervention, to fish out active case files. We want people to come to the health facilities and not to fear to come. We call on the media to help us solve the problem not to escalate any negative rumours.”
But a grave yard attendant in Potiskum, who spoke with our reporter, said: “Oga, we don’t know why people are dying like this. We too want to know what the problem is but we don’t know. We want the government to find out and tell us what is happening.
“But it is only journalists that are calling us and asking us questions. No government official has come to the grave yard to ask us anything.”
According to him, the number of deaths continued to rise as more people were being buried at the grave yards in Potiskum in the last three days, stating that his men buried about 68 bodies in the last three days at various graveyards.
He said the Mamman Ali grave yard on Gashua Road received 48 bodies for burial in the last three days.
The attendant gave the details of some of the graveyards and the bodies buried in them as NEPA (seven); Garin Jaji eight); Gishua Dabua (six) and Bayin Asibiti (four) besides the 10 graves dug by attendants at the Mamman Ali Cemetery.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Sunday, commended the Yobe State government for ordering an investigation into the mystery deaths recently reported in some parts of the state.
Lawan had expressed concern at the reports that many people have died of yet unknown cause(s), particularly in Gashua, Nguru and Portiskum communities.
The Senate President in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, said he welcomed the announcement by the State government that it would launch an investigation into the cause of the deaths.