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NCDC counters misinformation about outbreak of Covid in Benue, urges media to shun bad reportage

ByNews Editor

Dec 14, 2023 ,

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has issued an official statement to correct misinformation and false reports going round about the outbreak of Covid in Benue State.

“The report is a complete misinterpretation of a statement made on 11th December 2023 by a World Health Organization’s (WHO) State surveillance officer at the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Media Personnel Meeting organised by the Benue State Primary Healthcare Board in collaboration with the WHO”, the organization said in a statement issued today.

The organization however urged the media to be wary of misinterpretation of reports as it may pose a major threat to national security.

Read Full Statement Below:

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is aware of the news report on the detection of 25 new COVID-19 cases in Benue State. The report is a complete misinterpretation of a statement made on 11th December 2023 by a World Health Organization’s (WHO) State surveillance officer at the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Media Personnel Meeting organised by the Benue State Primary Healthcare Board in collaboration with the WHO.

The surveillance officer, while giving her presentation on the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Benue, stated that “Benue State had recorded a total of 25 cases in the year 2023 with the last case recorded as of mid-April (epi week 18)”. The information provided by the surveillance officer was based on the publicly available situation report (SITREP) published weekly by the state ministry of health.

Since the announcement of the index case of COVID-19 in Nigeria, there has been a total number 6,013, 826 tests conducted, 267,184 confirmed case and 3,155 deaths. In the last quarter of the year (October to December 2023), there have been a total of 15,481 test conducted, 75 confirmed cases confirmed cases in 25 states.

Since the WHO official declaration that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the NCDC, has included COVID-19 in the integrated disease surveillance strategy as a priority infectious disease which now requires conducting routine COVID-19 testing and reporting it along with other infectious diseases. COVID-19 testing is part of clinical care for pandemic flu preparedness, and bi-directional testing during investigations for influenza, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and in high-risk populations.

As COVID-19 may be associated with severe illness, hospitalization, and death among the elderly and other established high-risk groups, we continue to test for and detect COVID-19 cases throughout the year from patients presenting with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) or Influenza-like illness (ILI). Ongoing efforts to streamline surveillance for pandemic influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens of interest e.g., Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections include the transition from existing sentinel influenza surveillance and COVID-19 testing platforms to a pan-respiratory disease surveillance (PRDS) platform that will pick up changes in admissions and other outcomes related to priority respiratory pathogens.

As the fourth estate of the realm, the role of the media is both critical and indispensable to public health and national security and the NCDC values our partnership with our media colleagues. While we appreciate this collaboration, we will continue to reiterate the importance of responsible reporting to ensure the dissemination of accurate information and to avert any public health threat that may arise from the infodemics that follow incorrect and/or sensational health reports. This is essential in preventing any misinformation that could fuel unnecessary concern and panic among Nigerians.

The NCDC remains committed to protecting the health of Nigerians and ensuring trust through transparency by consistently fostering open communication channels and providing accurate and timely information on issues of public health importance.”

News Editor

Our News Editor, Muyiwa is an information management expert and Development Blogger with more than a decade experience in investigative reporting and journalism. He is passionate about human angle stories to all social issues in Nigeria and Africa.