COVID-19: NOA INTENSIFIES CAMPAIGN AGAINST MYTHS AND FALSE INFORMATION IN ANAMBRA STATE

Reporter: ALFRED AJAYI

The National Orientation Agency in Anambra (NOA) State has intensified its campaign targeted at diffusing negative and false information making the rounds about COVID-19 pandemic. The Director of the Agency in the State, Mr. Charles Nwoji, led his staff recently to the palace of the traditional ruler of Awkuzu, on the campaign entitled “Advocacy Sensitization Campaign on Increased Risk Communication and Community Engagement on COVID-19.”

The Director accused some opinion leaders in the society of undermining the efforts of the government towards curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.

He explained that the campaign was targeted at royal fathers, religious leaders, town union leaders and road transport workers union because of the number of people under their influence.

“This (COVID-19) is a serious matter, but some people either out of ignorance or deliberately have decided to spread falsehood and negative information about it. Please, get it clear, this pandemic is still very much with us. The ease of lockdown should not be understood as the end of Coronavirus disease.

“Many lives had been lost, others are on hospital beds. This all point to the fact that COVID-19 is real and it kills, if not managed properly. I appeal to you, let nobody decisive you,” the NOA boss pleaded.

 Mr. Nwoji also spoke against stigmatization of the survivors of COVID-19, which he noted discouraged voluntary testing, which the state government now advocated.

According to Mr. Nwokike, “despite all that the government of Anambra State had done to ensure that we all stay safe including providing a testing centre, people are still not coming out for testing. And I can bet you, one major reason here is the tendency to be stigmatized. Please, let us encourage all those under our influence to volunteer to be tested, especially when they feel the symptoms of COVID-19.”

Earlier, the Deputy Director in charge of Programmes, Mr. Joseph Uchendu, noted with regret that many citizens had lowered their guard since the lockdown was eased. Mr. Uchendu, who enumerated high fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing as part of the symptoms of COVID -19, encouraged the people to submit themselves for testing at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku, Awka.

The Spokesperson of the Palace, Chief John Akabueze, on behalf of the traditional ruler, commended the NOA delegation for the message of life, which he promised would be taken down to the nooks and crannies of the community.

However, another member of the Cabinet, Chief Clement Ifeakandu, expressed disapproval for the manner issues of COVID-19 had been handled in the country.

He said “the whole thing is shrouded in secrecy. See the level of politicisation of COVID-19 across the country. We all know that Coronavirus does not have party affiliation. My heart bled when I learnt about the billions of naira being spent lavishly on containment efforts. It was not long people started asking questions that they told us that the Treasury Building in Abuja cut fire. Please, let them know that the populace is not happy with the handling of the situation by the government.”

 The NOA sensitization train later left for Eke Nteje, where the Deputy Director, Administrations, Mrs. Ijeoma Nzewi, appealed to the traders, most of whom were trading without recourse for the safety protocols, to face the reality of COVID-19 and do all they could to safeguard themselves against the infection.

“You all are important to Nteje. You are important to Oyi Local Government. You are important to Anambra State and you are important to Nigeria. COVID-19 is real. Protect yourself against it. Use your masks, maintain social distancing and reduce mingling with people. If we join hands together, it will not be long, Coronavirus will become history,” Mrs. Nzewi appealed.

The NOA COVID-19 sensitization is expected to be carried out in the three senatorial districts of the state.

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