The World Health Organisation, WHO, has called for caution against the spread of panic over the coronavirus outbreak in China and other affected countries.
The WHO, which is tackling misinformation over the coronavirus outbreak had declared the oubreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, even as it called on government officials and the media to navigate between fear about the spread of the virus and increasing international preparedness.
“Instead of spending time on fear and panic, we should say this is the time to prepare,” said the Director-General, WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Noting that caution is necessary, Tedros said officials must be sure not to say or do anything to fuel rising xenophobia and ostracism of China, which could lead to less transparency and information.
Since the outbreak, misleading claims and hoaxes about the virus have circulated online. They include false conspiracy theories that the virus was created in a lab and that vaccines have already been manufactured, exaggerations about the number of sick and dead, and claims about bogus cures.
In a related development, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, dismissed reports making the rounds about a suspected case of coronavirus in Alimosho LGA, as fake, noting that Lagos has no suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus.
Speaking weekend during the tour of facilities at Mainland Hospital which is the Lagos State Infectious Disease Hospital by the Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, he said: “We heard the same rumour and we deployed our biosecurity team there yesterday. They have gathered a lot of medical and community intelligence and so far and it appears to us that there is no such thing and that this was fake news.
“It is neither a Chinese disease nor an African disease, it is a disease and it can happen to anybody, so we are appealing to Lagosians, please do not spread false rumours, it is dangerous, causes harm and it is a waste of resources. But we are ready, if these episodes get to the media we will respond and if we are able to track down perpetrators of these fake news then the law will take its course”, he said.
During the tour, Ehanire commended the Lagos State Government for its cutting edge preparedness against the outbreak of infectious diseases even as he expressed satisfaction at the level of infrastructure put in place by the State Government to effectively contain any infectious disease should there be a case.
“It is quite clear that Lagos has a clear-cut edge in managing infectious diseases and preparedness. I am extremely happy that Lagos is equipped in the area of knowledge built from the foundation it obtained from the 2014 Ebola outbreak which the state-managed properly,” he noted.
The Minister who also inspected Lagos State Bio-bank; the highest Bio-safety level 3 laboratory in West Africa located inside the Mainland Hospital, Yaba commended the State government for deploying additional 30 health personnel to assist with surveillance at the entry ports.
“I am highly impressed, happy and proud to see this level of preparedness. I have not just learnt something; I am impressed that the state has taken science to a very modern and admirable level. This is obviously a place a lot of lessons will be learnt.”
Ehanire stressed further that the Federal Government and the state government have a lot grounds for collaboration as the Federal Government will be requesting support team from the State government to assist in certain areas where experiences gathered over the years can be shared.
“I am confident that Lagos is ready, they have the highest volume of air travels, so the preparedness here is more important than anywhere else”, the Minister remarked.