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Fact check: Coronavirus not a “scam” in Nigeria, isolation centers functional

A video circulating on social media makes the claim that a COVID-19 isolation center is empty in Northern Nigeria, implying that the government is fabricating news on the state of the pandemic. In the video, the Sani Abacha Stadium isolation center in the state of Kano is shown to be apparently abandoned, while the author of the video can be heard muttering, “They said we have over 600 people here”. The claim made in the video, however, is misleading.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Examples of the claim can be seen here , here . The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to curb misinformation related to the new coronavirus.

On May 26, the Kano State Ministry of Health issued a statement on Twitter shedding light on the current COVID-19 situation as well as clarifying the government’s response to the pandemic ( here ). The statement called the allegations in the video on social media “mischievous”, “unfounded” and “handiwork of some disgruntled and unpatriotic elements” aimed at discrediting the state governor’s efforts around containing the spread of COVID-19.

It also informed the public that four isolation centers are fully functional while three more are nearing completion ( here ).

Zouera Youssoufou, Chief Executive Officer of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, and a member of the private sector led Coalition Against COVID (CACOVID, an acronym visibly stamped on a hospital bed in the video on social media), explained that the isolation center was temporarily vacant because it needed to undergo remodeling, according to the Daily Trust: “Based on the advice that more centres should be set up using some of the 500 beds initially procured for the Kofar Mata centre, the centre was redesigned to occupy 213 beds and the rest of the beds were distributed to other three newly established centres within the state.” ( here )

The Guardian Nigeria has also debunked this claim on social media ( here ). Mohammad Garba, Commissioner for Information, told The Guardian that the center was “redesigned based on recommendation and standards set by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)” and that 218 out of the 500 beds planned for the Sani Abacha center had been deployed to other new centers.

Two weeks ago, Nigeria imposed a “precision lockdown” that extended to the northern economic hub of Kano state. As of May 14, Kano had the second highest number of confirmed cases in the country after Lagos ( here ).

Globally, COVID-19 cases have surpassed the 5 million mark ( here ). As of May 27, Nigeria had over 8,000 confirmed cases and a total of 249 deaths ( covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/ ).

VERDICT

Misleading. The COVID-19 isolation center in this video was temporarily empty due to a redistribution of supplies. The outbreak is not a “scam” in Nigeria; the country has reported more than 8,000 cases of the disease.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here

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