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The Lagos State Government has denied a rumour that some Chinese living in the state have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

The state commissioner of health, Akin Abayomi, on his Twitter handle @ProfAkinAbayomi, debunked the rumour on Sunday.

He said “the alleged claims of coronavirus in suspected persons of Chinese descent living in Gowon estate, Alimosoho local government area of Lagos are untrue.”

Mr Abayomi said investigations by the surveillance and biosecurity unit of his ministry found no street or close named Osoba within Gowon Estate as reported in the WhatsApp message that carried the rumour.

He said the search team led by Odufuwa Alimosoho, Oni Okunola, Abdusalam Akindele, Akinfolarin Baruwa and a community informant did not find any such address in the estate.

Nigeria is yet to report any suspected or confirmed case of the killer disease.

Coronavirus outbreak originated from Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, and has since spread to over 25 countries and recorded over 800 deaths and 37, 000 confirmed cases.

While no case has been reported in Africa, Nigeria has been on high alert for the disease as it has been identified as one of the African countries with a high risk of contracting the disease.

This is due to the large numbers of Chinese living in the country and the high level of international trade between Nigeria and China. This has also increased the chances of fake alert of the disease.

This alert is the second debunked by the Lagos state government within the last seven days.

Fake news

As of Saturday, the rumour was circulating on WhatsApp of people of Chinese descent suspected to be infected with coronavirus living at Osoba Close in Gowon Estate in Lagos.

“These Chinese newly returned from Wuhan in China and are treating themselves of symptoms similar to that of a Coronavirus patient in Gowon Estate, Egbeda.

“Kindly advise and forward to any of your family members or relations to avoid going near any shop, office or business where Chinese people are gathered at this time around Gowon Estate and Egbeda environs,” the false claim stated.

Investigation ongoing

Mr Abayomi said that the information was being investigated.

“Using all available intelligence from the key community members (Ward locals, councillors, motorbike riders, market women, bartenders), programmatic implementation maps and Google maps), major streets in Gowon Estate were thoroughly searched.

“We will continue our investigation today, 9 February, with full cooperation from the DPO of the Nigerian Police Force in Gowon Estate, through the intervention of the chairman, Mosan Okunola LCDA, who has promised to reinforce our surveillance team.”

Mr Abayomi said while the investigation was ongoing, the ministry had increased surveillance on hotels and other resort centres in Lagos.

“We also call on Lagosians not to engage in circulating false news of diseases outbreaks. This is considered a serious offence with biosecurity implications”

He warned that anyone found to be engaging in such misinformation would be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

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