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FACT-CHECK: Claims that FG will conduct aerial disinfection due to COVID-19 is False

SINCE the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the deadly COVID-19 disease pandemic, and prior to the declaration, several unproven claims have been made across the social platforms in Nigeria.

Some of these claims are exaggerated , others misleading.

Most recent among these assertions, however, include claims that the use of chloroquine is capable of curing COVID-19 disease.

The second claim says the Federal Government would conduct an aerial containment of the virus.

These two claims have been shared on whatsapp platform and other social media groups.

“Breaking News: Warning, Warning, Warning. Please nobody should be outside by midnight today, lock up your door and window.

“Don’t leave your clothes or shoes outside. Federal Government have announce the plan to spray chemicals on air tonight with private jet to protect the country because of coronavirus.”

Findings

First, since outbreak of the coronavirus, up till date, the WHO is yet to recommend any particular anti-virus as cure for the pandemic.

Most of the recommendations suggested as precautionary measures includes maintaining proper hygiene, covering of mouth especially when coughing, the use of face mask and maintaining social distance particularly when in public space.

Though, Scientists in the United States and China have shown interests in the use of chloroquine tablet, but it remains questionable, as the US Food and Drug Administration agency was reluctant to accept the drug shortly after President Donald Trump made a declaration adopting the drug.

On Friday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire was also indifferent recognising chloroquine as a reliable cure.

Ehanire aligned the position of the Nigerian government with that of the WHO, including the anticipated outcome from the UN agency.

Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health also dispelled the use of chloroquine as an effective preventive cure.

He questioned efficiency of the drug with much expectation on more proven scientific results.

The commissioner also warned against the drug usage without medical supervision considering its severe side-effects,stressing that the state government would conduct its clinical trial on the drug’s effectiveness for either prevention or management.

“Use of chloroquine in COVID-19 infection by Lagos State. We do not have any hard evidence that chloroquine is effective in preventing or managing the coronavirus.

“We are watching the global research space to clearly define its efficiency in COVID-19,” Abayomi stated.

In its pinned tweet, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also advised Nigerians against the use of chloroquine, as wrong usage could lead to death.

“WHO has not approved the use of chloroquine for COVID-19 virus,” NCDC tweeted on Friday.

“Scientists are working hard to confirm the safety of several drugs for this disease. Please do not engage in self medication. This will cause arm and can lead to death.”

Meanwhile, regarding the aerial containment through the use of helicopters in Nigeria to spray disinfectants, there is also no available record as part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 preparedness plan.

The Health Minister, during his briefing also did not mention the adoption of helicopter in containing the virus.

Moreover, the assertion is marred with typographical errors and grammatical mistakes.

Although, few nations have developed public measures to sanitise the public space by openly disinfecting streets and other public spaces, no such action has been carried out by the federal government.

The only similar activity is to subject airport passengers to test through handheld temperature measuring devices, mostly during arrivals. They are also encouraged to make use of hand sanitisers.

Verdict

Based on the available piece of evidences, the claim that chloroquine usage could cure the deadly COVID-19 virus is questionable, and by extension could be described as false.

No global authority such as the United Nations WHO has approved use of chloroquine. The FDA and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has only accepted the drug as clinical trial.

On the second claim, there is no available public evidence to proof the use of helicopter in sanitising public space over night in Nigeria.

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