Lagos trains journalists on COVID-19 response, tasks on fact checking

Lagos State Ministry of Health in partnership with Lafiya Project trained selected journalists in the state on COVID-19 response while charging them in objective and professional reporting.

Themed, “Gender and Social Inclusion in COVID-19 Response: The Role of the Media,” the training programme was held on Thursday at the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Banquet Hall, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who was represented at the event by the Incident Manager, COVID-19 Lagos Response, Dr Ismail Abdulsalam, raised the alarm over the second wave of COVID-19 cases.

He informed that, the Lagos state since mid-October is experiencing an increasing rate in the number of COVID-19 cases.

He added that “From the middle of October, we have been experiencing a very sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“This trend is worrisome because the situation now can be likened to what we experienced between May and June. Most of our new patients now require intensive care; also, the number of deaths is on the increase compared to what we had in early October.

“More worrisome is the nonchalant attitude of residents in the state towards the non-pharmaceutical preventive method. Most of our people, till now do not believe that COVID-19 is real.”

Earlier, in her remarks, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Health to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  Dr Ore Finnih, while commenting Journalists for their professional reportage of the pandemic said  similar training was held in April stressing  that the knowledge acquired reflected in the reporting of the virus during the first wave.

Finnih, however, urged journalists to concentrate more on human angle than reporting the scores of infection and death as she said reporting the number of deaths would send panic to the public and that it would not help in the fight against the virus in Lagos.

“I urge journalists to focus more on how the virus has affected socio-economic existence,  homes, lifestyle and socio-consciousness than reporting scores.

“Journalists should report on how our economy has been affected by the virus, and as well as our cultural existence. The media should do more of human angle story that will not create fear in the mind of our people,” said Finnih.

Speaking on the topic ‘Managing Misinformation ‘, Mr Orwell Okpe, who represented Mr David Ajikobi of Africa Check, charged journalists on constant fact-checking of the information at their disposal, saying that the content they send out influences the thinking and attitude of the public on coronavirus pandemic.

Okpe stated that fact-checking and verification of information by journalists would help in reducing fake news.

He cautioned journalists to be careful in pushing out information about coronavirus unverified, saying that “There are a lot of conspiracy theories going on in the world presently”.

“Information should be sourced from credible and verified sources so that it will not misinform the public on the second wave of the pandemic “, said Okpe.

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