Just when the general public thought the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria was taking a positive turn, statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the number of confirmed cases of disease has skyrocketed.
For the past week under review, the number of COVID-19 cases which appeared to have dropped in the country spiked raising fear among health experts and the general public.
On Monday, December 14, 2020, the NCDC reported that it recorded a total of 201 new cases with Kaduna, Lagos and Katsina topping the chat with 74, 53 and 40 cases respectively.
However, on Tuesday, December 15, the cases shot up to 758 new cases, 930 new cases in Wednesday, December 16, and an all high of 1,145 new cases on Thursday, December 17.
While the number of new cases of the virus across the country seems to be on the low again after Thursday, fear among residents have continued to fuel disinformation on various platforms.
For instance, on Monday, December 14, 2020, a narrative widely shared within Kano metropolis claimed that Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu Pediatric Hospital located along Zoo Road had been shut down over a Coronavirus (COVID-19) case.
Khalifa Sheikh Isyaku Rabiu Paediatric Hospital, which is managed by Northfield Health Services is a Consortium comprising of Minal Dambatta Nigeria Limited and its array of strategic technical partners.
An investigation by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) showed that the claim is false.
A visit to the hospital by CDD fact-checker revealed that the facility was running as many patients were at the premises for medical consultations and other health related cases.
When contacted, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Hadiza Ashir, told CDD fact-checkers that the hospital is in full operation and that no case of COVID-19 was recorded at the facility as peddled by agents of fake news.
Dr. Ashir also said that the hospital management has no explanation to where the false narrative emerged from.
Another fact-check countered by the CDD is the claim that the Katsina State Government has banned the use of social media application – WhatsApp and Facebook – schools
The story published by different media outfits had headlines:: Katsina government bans WhatsApp in schools, prohibits Facebook amongst workers;, Katsina bans WhatsApp usage in public schools; Katsina government bans WhatsApp in schools, bars staff from commenting negatively or positively on government activities on Facebook among others.
According to the reports, students and workers in the state are the most affected.
However, fact-checks show that the Katsina State Government had not banned the use of Facebook and WhatsApp by students and workers in the state.
The Katsina State Commissioner for Education, Professor Badamasi Lawal, in his response to CDD’s inquiry said contrary to claim, the state government only stopped the use of WhatsApp groups for staff of public schools in Katsina state.
According to Professor Lawal, the decision to stop WhatsApp groups form staffers in the Ministry of Education was informed after a disagreement and exchange of words between a teacher and the school principal over group WhatsApp message.
WhatsApp groups had been created by zonal directors of each school in the State for ease of communication among staff. But the feud between the teacher and a principal over a message posted on the WhatsApp group created necessitated the decision to block the groups.
In another claim, an image of a Toyota Hiace minibus with the inscription “Ministry of Long Life and Prosperity Imo State’’ trended on Social media on December 11, 2020.
The picture which was shared by a Twitter user with the account @RealOlaudah was also shared widely on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Checks by the CDD showed that image is fake as there is no Ministry of Long Life and Prosperity in Imo State and the inscription on the bus was photoshopped.
However, there is a Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment created by former Governor Rochas Okorocha. The ministry, however, no longer exists with the present administration under the leadership of Governor Hope Uzodinma, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Imo state on Electronic Media, Amaka Okafor, told CDD fact-checker.
Fact-checkers at the Centre using google reverse image search, traced the original image of the bus to the website of Anis Transport, a transportation services company based in Bangkok.
Other claims countered by the CDD include: