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The Nigerian government has said new evidence suggests that COVID-19 may be transmitted through the air.

“Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infections, we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of COVID-19,” Chikwe Ihekweazu, the head of Nigeria’s infectious disease agency, NCDC, said at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

Mr Ihekweazu said the virus was earlier believed to only be transmittable through droplets which emanate from the nose and the mouth and fall to the ground.

He, however, said understanding how a new virus is transmittable is critical for effective response.

“Understanding the modes of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19 from the very beginning, our understanding based on other coronaviruses was spread primarily through droplets,” the official noted.

He said the wearing of face masks and the need to maintain social distancing had become imperative following the new evidence.

Before now, the World Health Organization (WHO) said COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

As of Sunday evening, Nigeria has already recorded 32,558 confirmed cases of the virus, out of which 13,447 have been treated and discharged. About 740 persons have also died.

COVID-19 results

The NCDC chief said the agency is set to begin the electronic transmission of COVID-19 results.

This means people can easily use a code to electronically check for their results instead of waiting endlessly for it.

“There is an online platform that is being set up at the moment to enable the electronic transmission of results come back to patients. You can go in yourself and check your results once you have been tested and you have a code that is given to you.

“This way, you don’t rely on several steps between federal, laboratories and states government in order to share those results,” he said.

Call hoax

Mr Ihekweazu lamented that the agency’s call centre has been receiving lots of hoax calls which perpetually clogged the line.

This, he said, makes it difficult for individuals with genuine complaints to get through.

“26 per cent of all our calls last week were hoax calls. One in four of all the calls coming to the NCDC connect centre were hoax calls; people were just calling for one reason or the other – to check whether you are there, to challenge you, to ask you about Madagascar cure or something like that,” he said.

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He said these are challenges facing the agency’s call centre.

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