LAGOS State health officials have complained that the members of the public are frustrating their attempts to combat the coronavirus pandemic as 80% of the phonecalls to the dedicated helpline set up are hoax calls.
Nigeria currently has 276 infected with the coronavirus, of which about half of them are in Lagos State. As a result, the Lagos State government has had to be very proactive, establishing two dedicated isolation centres, introducing social distancing measures, providing testing centres and also distributing foodstuffs to the populace to encourage them to stay at home.
In addition to this, a dedicated helpline was opened for anyone feeling coronavirus symptoms, so they can get immediate medical assistance. Professor Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State health commissioner, revealed that 80% of the calls received on the emergency lines are hoaxes, which are very distracting.
During a presentation at the Lagos State secretariat, Professor Abayomi said 31,040 out of the total calls received were hoax calls. He added that many were for fun, to play pranks or to pass insults at health workers, pointing out that they were becoming worrisome and disturbing the interventions of the government in flattening the coronavirus curve.
Professor Abayomi added that 11% of the calls requested information about coronavirus and only 9% of them were valid. Warning that this is not helping matters, the commissioner urged Nigerians to desist from making hoax calls to the lines, pranking health workers as well as the aggressive use of language to staff of the ministry.
He said: “Out of the 9%, only 4$ of the calls actually resulted in a red flag where health workers are either sent to get sample of the patients or retrieve them for isolation and treatment. We are very concerned about these hoax calls, this is why many complain they could not reach us, our lines are being jammed by irresponsible members of the society.”
According to Professor Abayomi the ministry is trying to locate those numbers that were genuine but not traceable through other means. He added that the means being deployed include using contact addressed, community intelligence and security agencies to ensure that they do not pose any threats to the community.