Yobe State Government, through the COVID-19 Committee on Prevention and Control, has described as untrue reports of mass deaths in the State, associated with COVID-19.
The State Commissioner of Health who is also the Vice Chairman COVID-19 Committee, Dr. Lawan Gana, said in a media briefing that even before the news, teams have been constituted to unravel and ascertain the actual cause of deaths in those areas.
In his words, “over the last two days, our attention was drawn to some online and print media unconfirmed reports that over 155 people died mysteriously in Potiskum, Gashua and Nguru local governments.
“These rumors happened, people died due a lot of problems. We may not say it is coronavirus and we may not say it is not. But when this happens, we always have standard ways of doing things and we have ways of responding to alerts and we have standard ways of responding to rumours.
“Even before these news came out, we had set up teams to go to those local governments and do detailed assessments together with verbal autopsies to come up with something to actually establish that these deaths are happening. And if they are happening what are the possible causes of these deaths”.
He charged journalists to always verify their facts before publishing or broadcasting them as rumours and misconceptions would do harm to the ongoing effort of mitigating the effect of COVID-19 in the State.
“Rumors and misconceptions are not going to help us in mitigating the problems around coronavirus disease. Avoid peddled rumours.
“As it is, we want to call on the members of the media to please be of help to us in order to prevent and control the disease in Yobe State and not to escalate unnecessary information,” he added.
According to Dr. Gana, people in the state were already being traumatized after a decade of Boko Haram insurgency, hence there was no point in creating unnecessary panic among the people.
“We wouldn’t want to create panic amongst the population, because we know the effect of anxiety on the health of individuals.
“Yobe state has been affected by insurgency for the past ten years and that fear alone is enough for people to contend with. So, we cannot afford to create additional panic and fear among the people”, he said.