The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says spreading of fake news during epidemics could make disease outbreaks such as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) worse.
NCDC’s Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
”We are also battling with fake news and misinformation alongside with managing COVID-19 in Nigeria.
”As a nation, we should share information only from verified sources. Visit the NCDC website on ncdc.gov.ng for more,” he advised.
Ihekweazu described fake news as something that was manufactured with no respect for accuracy, and was often based on conspiracy theories.
The NCDC chief noted that fear naturally begets exaggeration, which begets more fear and more exaggeration in an endless spiral.
He stated that fake news was propagated differently from real news, even at early stages of spreading.
“Social media can be a double-edged sword for society, either as a convenient channel exchanging ideas, or as an unexpected conduit circulating fake news through a large population.
“The rise of fake news including misinformation and inaccurate advice on ” he said.
He, however, advised Nigerians to share only information from verified sources, while the relevant agencies would continue to keep them informed.
Ihekweazu stated that as at March 3, 2020, there was only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
He said that the centre was working closely with the Lagos State Ministry of Health and Ogun Government to monitor contacts of the index, to prevent further spread.
“We still have a total number of one case, one laboratory confirmation, zero number of death, 34 contact under follow-up in Ogun and 19 in Lagos State.
“ Five Health Care Workers (HCW) contacts under follow-up in Ogun, and zero in Lagos State,” he said.
According to him, Nigerians have a role to play, to ensure effective containment of COVID-19 in the country.
“What we have learned from countries that have made progress on COVID-19 control is that it requires a whole-of-society response, to have a chance of effective control.
“Unwell people, who recently travelled from any country with ongoing transmission of COVID-19 should immediately contact NCDC on (Phone/Email) or 0800- (Phone/Email) (toll-free),” he said.
Ihekweazu said Nigeria had successfully managed Ebola, and had built its system by managing disease outbreaks in the country.
“We are currently responding to a Lassa fever outbreak. We have a strong team at NCDC,” he said.