The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said on Friday that the rising spate of fake news and misinformation despite repeated caution by government, is distracting the fight against coronavirus.
The minister, who stated this at a forum in Abuja, put together to update Nigerians on the government efforts to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, said the government is particularly worried about unverified local therapies circulating in the social media as a cure to COVID-19.
Mohammed said: “If you go by Whatsapp platform, there are so many myths and cure for COVID-19 today.
“Some people will tell you, it cannot affect Africans or the disease is not even existing at all, while some will say, all you need to do is to take garlic, take ginger.
“As we speak today, there is no vaccine or medicine for COVID-19.
“The only weapon to combat the virus is what we called Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI), which is largely sensitisation, advocacy, keeping very good hygiene, social distancing, not shaking hands and no gathering.
“These are the only effective ways to contain the pandemic and that is why governments are declaring total lockdown.
“Once it starts spreading, no healthcare in the world can survive it.”
The minister said if Nigerians do not change their ways, the country might witness upsurge in infection of the deadly disease.
“I do not want to raise any alarm, but give a scenario – if one percent of our population is infected, that is two million people.
“We do not have two million beds in all our hospitals combined, it is not a joke and that is why Nigerians should take the government seriously.
“You see, COVID-19 does not kill as fast as Ebola, even SARS, but the damage it does to the economy, the social dislocation is worst.
“I pray that we overcome and contain COVID-19, even if we do so next month, the effects will still be felt for many more months,” he added.
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