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Empty isolation centre in Nigeria’s Kano state means coronavirus is a ‘lie’? No, video misleading

Nigerian news agency Anambra Broadcasting Services posted a video on Facebook that it described as showing “the current state of Sani Abacha stadium in Kano, a designated Covid-19 isolation centre”.

The video is of a temporary structure on a sports field. The person filming walks through and around the structure, showing stacked hospital beds and shipping containers, which he identifies as toilets.

He says: “This is the isolation centre of Kano. Nobody is inside ... Today is Eid al-Fitr, 24 May 2020. They said we have over 600 people here. I can only see the beds ... It is still under construction – Sani Abacha stadium ... A 600-capacity isolation centre.”

He later adds: “This corona na lie lie ... Not any coronavirus.”

The video has been shared elsewhere on Facebook, and on WhatsApp.  

The video’s narration suggests that Kano has no functional isolation centre, and claims that the empty and incomplete structure means the coronavirus outbreak is a lie. 

What’s the story here?

Facility under construction – four more operational

On 26 May Kano’s health ministry issued a statement quoting Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, the commissioner for health, as saying the “allegation in the video” that Kano “does not have a single functional Covid-19 isolation centre” as “a white lie, false, mischievous” and “unfounded”.

“Kano state government has four isolation centers that are fully functional and well equipped and three more that are nearing completion,” he said.

The Sani Abacha Stadium isolation centre was one of the three still being completed, the commissioner said. The other two were a 340-bed facility at Karfi Sports Institute and the Tofa Cottage Hospital isolation centre. 

According to the statement, Kano’s four functional Covid-19 facilities include the Kwanar Dawaki isolation centre, which is for patients in critical condition and in need of ventilators. The others are the Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital in Giginyu, the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre set up by the state government in collaboration with the Aliko Dangote Foundation, and the isolation centre at Daula Hotel.

The commissioner urged the public to disregard the video. The Kano state government also published photos of existing centres on Twitter.

‘Mischief’ – Nigeria’s Covid-19 coalition

In the video, the words “donated by Cacovid” can be seen on one of the hospital beds. 

Cacovid, the Coalition Against Covid-19, has described the video as “sheer mischief”. The coalition is made up of private sector leaders supporting the government's efforts to manage the Covid-19 crisis, and has raised more than N27 billion to fight the disease.

“It is sheer mischief and a deliberate attempt to scuttle the ongoing fight against Covid-19, which has started yielding fruit in the state,” Zouera Yousoufou, the CEO of the Aliko Dangote Foundation and administrator of Cacovid, reportedly said in a statement. 

News reports and other fact-checkers have also found the video to be misleading. – Fatima Abubakar


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