Coronavirus in Lagos, Nigeria? No, doctored story copied from report on Lassa fever in Kogi

“Lagos confirms 9 cases of Coronavirus, 4 deaths,” claims a 9 February 2020 article on the site FoxNewsNigeria.com.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Health has confirmed nine cases of Coronavirus with four deaths recorded since the outbreak of the deadly disease in the state,” it reads.

“Dr Austin Ojotule, the State Epidemiologist, disclosed this in statement in Lagos on Sunday.”

It adds: “The official said that the nine confirmed cases were from five local government areas of Ibaji with two, Okene, two, Idah, three, Okehi, one, and Igalamela Local Government Area, one.”

The article has been shared on Facebook.

But has the deadly virus hit Nigeria?

No coronavirus cases in Africa

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases. An outbreak of a new strain, named “2019-nCoV” and known as “novel coronavirus”, was identified in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. (Note: The strain has now been named Covid-19.)

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent update on the outbreak, for 10 February 2020, the virus has claimed 909 lives in China, and one in the Philippines. There are 40,554 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, most of them in China.

There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases or deaths anywhere in Africa – including Nigeria.

Copy of report on Lassa fever outbreak

The FoxNewsNigeria.com article is an almost word for word copy of a widely published news report on a Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria’s Kogi state. “Lassa fever” has been changed to “coronavirus”, and “Kogi” changed to “Lagos”.

Dr Austin Ojotule is a state epidemiologist – for Kogi state.

Ibaji, Okene, Idah, Okehi and Igalamela are all local government areas of Kogi state, not Lagos.

On 11 February, Prof Akin Abayomi, Lagos state’s commissioner for health, dismissed the claim on Twitter.

“This is absolute falsehood,” he wrote. “Nigerians and the international community should disregard this report intentionally published to cause panic and anxiety among our people. We reiterate our disrelish for fake news and it remains a criminal offence!”

The FoxNewsNigeria.com article is false. – Mary Alexander


 

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.