We’ll soon begin sensitisation on coronavirus ― NOA
• Advises against panic
National Orientation Agency (NOA) has said it was developing broadcast jingles to educate Nigerians on the scourge of coronavirus.
It, however, urged Nigerians not to panic over recent detection of the disease in the country
This is just as the Agency charged Nigerians to desist from listening or spreading fake news which is capable of creating unnecessary panic or tension among the public.
Coronavirus, which was first detected in China, has recorded many deaths. The virus was detected in Nigeria on 28th of February, 2020, after an Italian who works in Lagos was tested positive.
Speaking with Tribune Online in his office in Abuja, the Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said efforts were ongoing in educating Nigerians in local languages on how to stay safe and protect themselves from the virus.
He said before the virus was detected in Nigeria, the Agency had been on sensitisation campaign on Lassa fever.
Dr Abari, therefore, urged Nigerians not to panic as they would be equipped with knowledge on how to stay safe and prevent the virus from spreading.
“Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, we have actually activated our information platforms, and we have been engaged at various levels, in fact, our sensitisation started on Lassa fever, and as we are at the Lassa fever advocacy, the Coronavirus outbreak was announced.
“When it arrived the country, we had to step up our sensitisation and advocacy first by calling on Nigerians to remain calm and not to panic, secondly, now that it has arrived Nigeria, the most important issue is to educate people how to prevent the spread of the virus and how to contain it.
“Spreading information to the general public and how to prevent Coronavirus spread becomes our main priority, to this extent, we developed messages in Hausa, Pidgin, Fulfude, Yoruba and Igbo, we still have other languages in which to translate these messages, but the idea is how to protect yourself, how to keep a clean environment, how to maintain high level of personal hygiene,” he said.
Abari, however, called on Nigerian to beware of fake news on the social media, and ensure that the only information they access is the correct information.
“If you go to all our social media platforms, you will see clearly what we are saying, and first the information we release to Nigerians is not to panic, it is also anchored around the fact that please ensure that only correct information is accessed by you, try as much as possible to avoid fake news, happily, Facebook is partnering Ministry of Information and Culture to remove any form of fake news on the Coronavirus.
“Secondly, as you can see, so many kinds of information on the Coronavirus, many people are bringing conspiracy theories that it was deliberately created, whatever it is, the point is we have a global health issue in our hands, and the most important thing is for people to know that the truth about it.
“Till date, there has not been a widely acknowledged vaccine against the virus, and therefore, your only cure first is to keep high level of personal hygiene and stay safe, you can only do this on the strains of the correct information that is made available to you, and that is we are doing all these sensitisations with animation, with real-life photographs to show how you can wash your hands, how to use hand sanitizer, how to cough and so on.
“This is the information that should go to Nigerians, this is the information that should go to them in the languages they understand, this is information that needs to be spread, and that’s why the campaign is going on,” Dr Abari added.
The NOA DG said the ongoing sensitisation on Coronavirus is being done on the radio because of its level of reach in the areas. He said the Agency also engages traditional and religious leaders so that they can relay the information to their followers.
“We are not sensitising on the pages of the newspapers, after all, the largest circulating newspaper in this country is less than 200,000. So when you say you are going to sensitise 200 million people and you are putting advert on a newspaper with less than 200,000 readerships, what per cent of the people are you going to reach?
“But radio, television and our partnership with religious leaders and traditional rulers have been activated, churches will carry this information on their pulpit on Sundays, mosque will take it to their people on Friday,” he added.