Covid-19: NCDC urges citizenry to engage centre on WhatsApp

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Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
Access Bank Plc

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has urged Nigerians to access its WhatsApp for a free-to-use service and to engage the centre on how to curtail the spread of cCoronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of NCDC, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja, while giving an update on COVID-19 pandemic in the country that the new service allows for two-way conversations on WhatsApp.

“We‘ll send real-time messages to all Nigerians who opt in to the service, and Nigerians can also engage directly with us,” he said.

He said that the easy-to-use messaging service have the potential to reach all Nigerians and enables NCDC to get information directly into the hands of Nigerians that need it.

Ihekweazu noted that the messaging service provides the latest news and information on COVID19 including details on symptoms and how Nigerians could protect themselves and others.

The NCDC boss said it would also provide the latest situation reports and numbers in real-time to help government decision-makers protect the health of Nigerians.

All WhatsApp users can access the free service by simply adding the number:

+234-708-711-0839 to their phone contacts.

To get started, users can text any key word for example, “Hi” to the number through WhatsApp chat which prompts a list of options,” he explained.

He said NCDC would also publish the WhatsApp support helpline number on its website, social media platforms and communication material distributed to the public.

Ihekweazu called on Nigerians to be civil and responsible in the way they go about reporting cases with regards to the virus, using the dedicated phone lines.

The NCDC boss said that the key challenge was not just the volume but also being able to confidently discern between accurate and reliable sources from incorrect and misleading information.

“We do not have to keep toying with the helplines dedicated to fighting this Virus. Over the last few days, we‘ve engaged more volunteers at our call centre and expanded the lines.

“We kindly request for understanding if anyone has challenges calling us. You can send us a DM as well. We are working hard to expand our capacity and automate processes,” he said.

He, however said that NCDC had also created a new microsite specifically for COVID19.

The guidelines develops frequently asked questions and Infographics to download daily situation reports.

Ihekweazu advised Nigerians that preventing the further spread of COVID19 pandemic was a shared responsibility for every Nigerian.

“Let’s start in full solidarity with one another. We are in this together and we will get through this, together as one Nigerian,” he said.

It was reported that as at 9.30 pm on Sunday, March 29, there were 111 confirmed cases of COVID19 reported in Nigeria with one death.

Currently, Lagos has 68; Abuja- 21, Ogun – Three, Ekiti – one, Oyo – Seven, Osun, Two , Enugu – Two, Edo – Two, Bauchi -Two, while Benue ,Kaduna and Rivers have one case respectively.

The cases reported were from travelers who just returned to the country while other cases were from people who have come in contact with infected people.