Covid-19 & Stigma: Nigerians Giving NCDC Wrong Names and Addresses During Tests

Officially, the number of new Coronavirus infections in Nigeria stands at 16,658 with 424 deaths. Nigeria, like several other countries in the world, has taken steps to lift restrictions on movement so as to allow the resumption of economic activities, realizing that the economic impact of continued lockdown would inflict more damage than the Coronavirus. The key difference is that Nigeria started to open up the economy as the number of infections kept rising whilst many other countries took the decision after the number of new infections had fallen. Curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus thus calls for more rigorous adherence to all known and recommended measures by all Nigerians. This sadly has not been the case. The Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Diseases Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, lamented during a media briefing on June 15, 2020, that lack of compliance with the NCDC’s procedures may be aiding the spread of the Coronavirus in Nigeria. The NCDC boss lamented, “Everywhere around us, we are seeing an increase in high-risk behaviour that will inevitably lead to more transmission,” adding that “We are seeing a number of cases. And we have to think of this in very clear, unambiguous terms. We simply have to take more responsibility.”

Ever distrustful of the government and its agencies, Nigerians are disputing the ever rising number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus infection. The NCDC explained that even more cases would be discovered if Nigeria should conduct more tests, pointing out that many new cases are discovered through tracing and testing the contacts of people who have fallen ill as a result of coronavirus infection. Many of the people who have tested positive through the efforts of the NCDC to trace and test may never have sought to be tested.

While insisting on the integrity of the NCDC’s figures, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu commented that some “Nigerian things” have been happening such as Nigerians giving false names and addresses when submitting samples for testing.  States’ Covid-19 Task Forces are unable to trace such people when their tests return as positive from the laboratories. He said it was not practical for the NCDC to ask the state security agencies to investigate these cases and appealed to Nigerians to cooperate with the agency. Dr. Ihekweazu also cleared the air on the possibility of asymptomatic people infecting others with the coronavirus. He explained that asymptomatic patients can indeed infect others within the first ten days of contracting the virus. He stated that asymptomatic patients who test positive need to self-isolate lfor at least ten days.

On the topic of pop singer Naira Marley, who recently flouted restrictions on movement, Dr. Ihekweazu stated that there aren’t enough resources to perform mass testing of everyone who attended the Jabi Mall concert. The NCDC would however trace and test the attendees if anyone who attended the concert is reported to have symptoms of Covid-19 or tests positive for the virus. The Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika also disclosed that the operations of the private jet charter and aircraft maintenance firm, Executive Jet Services, have been suspended for flying Marley to the concert.

Public officials who contracted the novel coronavirus when it first arrived Nigeria readily admitted they have been infected. These include Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State and the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari. It has since become the custom for high-profile public officials and businessmen to pass away “after a brief illness”, a trend noted by Andrew Alli, a leading private equity professional and social media influencer. Nigeria is in a catch-22 situation. Revealing the coronavirus as cause of death or illness of public figures  would make Nigerians aware that the virus is real and it is spreading but it could also revive the initial perception that is a big man’s disease. A dynamic behavioural change campaign based on the beliefs and socio-economic status of different classes of Nigerians would aid NCDC’s work.

Related Articles

Back to top button

Subscribe to our newsletter!


Stay up to date with our latest news and articles.
We promise not to spam you!

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Arbiterz will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.