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The Fact-Checker: June 15, 2020

4 mins read

As other parts of the world record a downward trend in the number of new coronavirus cases, Africa, which seemed immune at first, records figures to the contrary. Data from the World Health Organization shows that the coronavirus case count in Africa has doubled in the last 18 days. Last week, Nigeria had a total of about 2,328 new cases, although with less death toll.

Digital Trends in Nigeria

With a population estimated to be 205,822,203, there are 85.49 million internet users in Nigeria (42% of the total population) in January 2020. According to the new Digital 2020 reports – published in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite, the number of internet users in Nigeria increased by 2.2 million (+2.6%) between 2019 and 2020, with internet penetration in Nigeria standing at 42%.

Globally, almost 300 million people came online for the first time between January 2019 and January 2020, with the majority of those users living in developing countries. In January, there were 169.2 million mobile connections in Nigeria. This number increased by 12 million (+7.7%) between January 2019 and January 2020 and is equivalent to 83% of the total population. 

Furthermore, a recent survey conducted by Cisco shows that in 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic globally — 15 times higher than it was in 2017. Insivia also reports that video viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, in relation to 10% for readers of the same text in print. This is in line with a scientific study that shows that humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text and that there is a special connection to ideas and products through visual storytelling.

With an increase in production of cheap smartphones, internet connectivity in rural areas, and digital messaging for work and pleasure due to physical distancing policies, online information flow will continue to expand exponentially, leaving one with the question: how much accessible information is actually true? 

Recurrent misinformation theme in the past week

Credit: Babakay

As more Nigerians get access to the internet, a world of possibilities is open to people who, previously, could not see the world beyond their immediate vicinity. Foreign media portrayal of the Western world as the proverbial lands flowing with milk and honey, aided by social media influencers living lavishly in these countries, means that more Nigerians yearn for a better life at the other side of the river. The riots and protests do not deter these individuals who are already familiar with the sting of poverty, degradation of social systems and police brutality.

It is, thus, not surprising that Dubawa had to debunk a claim that the heavily criticised United States President, Donald Trump, will grant 5,000 Nigerians two years of free working visas in the country. Variations of this claim have surfaced over the past years and since Dubawa started debunking, not once have such claims been true!

[Type “visa” on our search tab to view more immigration-related fact-checks]

Coronavirus Q & A 

Is there a new strain of malaria-causing people to lose their sense of smell?

Anosmia is a partial or complete loss of smell which may occur temporarily or permanently. Usually, anosmia would be caused by swelling or blockage in the nose that prevents odours from getting to the top of the nose. Anosmia is sometimes caused by a problem with the system that sends signals from the nose to the brain.

However, recently, health authorities have identified anosmia as a symptom of Covid-19. The loss of smell has been added to the list of coronavirus symptoms in the United Kingdom. Therefore, if you are experiencing loss of smell rather than assuming that it is a new strain of malaria, go and test for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Can you lose your ability to taste to COVID-19?

Loss of taste, just like Anosmia, is a new indicator for coronavirus. Although it’s not as rampant as the latter, health authorities believe that they are related. “Anosmia refers to the loss of or change to a person’s sense of smell. The Department of Health statement said, “it can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.”

Which state in Nigeria has zero cases of COVID-19?

In Nigeria, as of Sunday, 14th of June, 2020, there is only one state without a single case of coronavirus. Cross River state which has its capital in Calabar remains the only state that has not recorded any case of COVID-19. 

The state governor, Ben Ayade, during an interview with Channels Television, has explained some of the strategies employed by the state to make it COVID-free. He said, “As soon as we started reading in the papers and watching on Television the impact of the pandemic globally, what we did as a state was to quickly respond to it by blocking our state against the virus. We locked our borders immediately and commenced ‘No Mask No Movement’. We were proactive, and we have continued to sustain that…”

Tip of the week 

#FakeNews Alert 

WHO advises against children under 6years wearing masks. – SOURCE: WhatsApp Image

Did the World Health Organization issue this advice? Is the source credible? You need to ask yourself these questions to lay your hands on the facts. Remember, always keep an open mind to claims on social media. Before you forward to others, make sure to verify.

Osinbajo Commissions Biggest biggest yam market in the world – SOURCE: WhatsApp Image

Many times Dubawa has checked claims relating to ranking and awards, but claim-authors usually get the rankings wrong or fail to show accuracy. Questions to ask yourself: who did the ranking? How did they arrive at this conclusion? Is there anything missing in the report? Is it another case of Misleading Headlines?

*FG* has finally approved and have started giving out free _N30,000_ Relief Funds to each citizen – SOURCE: WhatsApp

Questions to ask yourself: Who is the source? Has any credible platform reported this? Who has benefited? Is this link available on any federal government website or social media accounts?

Ebele Oputa is a frontline leader who helps organizations do new things or do existing things more efficiently. She has provided strategic, technical and programmatic oversight as well as editorial support of Dubawa since its inception. She is an experienced Programme Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry including the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Skilled in Negotiation, Training, Leadership, Project Management, and Strategic Communications, Ebele has a Master of Laws (LLM) focused on International Trade and Commercial Law from Durham University.

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