On Friday, July 3, 2020, several online newspapers and blogs published a report claiming that the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, accused Nigerian youths of spreading the deadly Coronavirus across the country. The newspapers and blogs include the Nation Newspaper, Opera News, Linda Ikeji blog, PMNews and the Punch.
The reports said Dr Chikwe made the allegation during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
According to the report, Dr Chikwe said youths were responsible for the rapid spread of the Coronavirus.
An online version of the Punch – the first newspaper to report the claim – published the story with the headline ‘’NCDC blames youths for rapid COVID-19 spread.”
Checks by fact-checkers at the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) show that the NCDC Director did not blame the youths for the rapid spread of the Coronavirus disease during the briefing.
A review of his complete statement shows he was drawing attention to data available to the NCDC, which shows that Nigerians between the age of 20 and 40 years were the most infected demography.
Parts of his statement read, “As more people are infected across the world, you would have seen the numbers; it is increasingly obvious that transmission among younger people really, not children, but people aged between 20 and 40 as far as we know, are really driving the spread of this virus, but those that are bearing the brunt of it are people age 50 and above.”
Chikwe said: “Three out of five people who died from COVID-19 are 50 years and above; so we have to work harder, all of us collectively, to protect our elderly. We are on the verge of opening our airports, we have relaxed intercity travel.”
In a quick response to the claim by the newspapers and various blogs, Dr Chikwe countering the reportage said he never said during his speech at the briefing that youth were responsible for the widespread of the disease.
Dr Chikwe, in a tweet, said: “In my comments, I emphasised a fact from our data- most cases are in people aged 20-40, while most deaths are in those >50. We do not blame any age-group as #COVID19 affects our lives in different ways. We must work together to protect each other, especially our elderly & vulnerable.”
It is important to note that youths in Nigeria form the bulk of the nation’s population, accounting for more than 60% of the total number of Nigerians.
Also, in a quick move, the Punch Newspaper has changed its headline from ’NCDC blames youths for rapid COVID-19 spread’’ to a new one ”There’s the rapid spread of COVID-19 among youths – NCDC.”
As at 8:00 am, July 03, 2020, 27,110 Nigerians have contracted Coronavirus; 10,801 have been discharged while 616 others have died from complications caused by the virus.
The NCDC Director did not blame the youths for the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. Dr Chikwe used available data to explain that people within the youth age bracket are the most infected age group.
He also said that those who are older at higher risk of dying due to complications from the virus.
He also urged Nigerians to take responsibility in other to protect the latter group who are the most vulnerable.
Also, CDD is urging members of the public to verify all information before sharing.
You can also forward suspicious messages for verification at +2349062910568 or contact us on twitter: @CDDWestAfrica.