The National Orientation Agency (NOA) says it has commenced and extensive door-to-door and street-to-street enlightenment programmer nationwide as part measures to check the spread of coronavirus in the country.
At a press conference in Abuja,Tuesday, the Director-General of the agency, Mr Garba Abari, stated that many Nigerians do not believe that there is COVID-19 or the danger it portends in spite of the reality.
He stated that in spite of the number of confirmed cases and deaths, many respected opinion leaders still take it for granted, while creating and spreading myths about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DG noted for example “the claims of certain herbal concoctions that can cure COVID-19 being peddled among Nigerians on social media, which the NOA has devoted much efforts to debunk.”
He criticized most of the messages designed to inform the people on COVID-19, which he said has been “rather intellectual for people at the grassroots, where illiteracy is still high.
“Words and phrases like social distancing, self-isolation and co-morbidity etc are over the heads of grassroots people and need to be stepped down to their level.”
He expressed concern on the compliance level of the lockdown which lost its initial effectiveness in most cities, but remained ineffective in the sub-urban and rural areas.
Abari believed that security operatives were compromised in the failure of the ban on inter-state movement and plans that the agency “will partner with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to provide toll-free numbers to enable Nigerians report such misconducts.
“There were lots of opportunistic crimes in some communities around the country in the wake of the lockdown. We, therefore, call on security agencies to increase their vigilance to stem such crimes.”
While commending the media for the support in the fight against COVID-19, he however, appealed to them to go a step further by availing the agency free airtime to deepen COVID-19 sensitisation.
The NOA boss said the phased easing of the lockdown is not a time to relax as he renewed the call for strict observance of regular hand washing with soap and water, use of alcohol based sanitisers, use of face mask in public, social distancing and full “compliance to the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).”
He urged the need for prompt reporting of cases of continuous dry cough or sneezing, difficulty in breathing and high temperature to NCDC for immediate action.