The National Orientation Agency (NOA) says it has begun door-to-door and street-to-street sensitisation in 19 states in the country.
The exercise is part measures to further stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The Director-General of NOA, Mr Garba Abari, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference on the agency’s observation, report and efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Abari listed the states to include Lagos; Ogun, Kano, Kwara, Enugu, Katsina, Kaduna, Ekiti, Delta, Edo, Benue, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Oyo, Bauchi, Rivers, Ondo and the FCT.
He said that the agency observed that there was persistent disbelief of the danger and impact of COVID-19 among Nigerians, in spite of the awareness of the reality of the disease.
“In spite the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths across the country, you find out that even at some high levels, people still take it for granted.
“Many respected opinion leaders still hold and spread disbelief among Nigerians. So many myths about the COVID-19 pandemic has been ranging from conspiracies about some persons using the pandemic to make quick gains.
“Also the claims of certain herbal concoctions that can cure COVID-19 are being peddled among Nigerians especially on social media.
“NOA has devoted much efforts in the recent weeks to debunk these myths, also with the bulk messaging on COVID-19, which has been rather intellectual for people at the grassroots, where illiteracy is still high.
“Words and phrases like: Social Distancing, Self-isolation and Co-morbidity etc are over the heads of grassroots people and need to be stepped down to their level,” he said.
He expressed concern that the lockdown which was initially effective, however, subsequently waned in efficacy, especially in cities where enforcement measures were concentrated.
The NOA boss also noted that in the sub-urban and rural areas, businesses continued almost as usual in spite of the lockdown.
He, however, said that most religious centers complied with the ban on gatherings especially in the cities.
According to him, security operatives in some cases are compromising the ban on inter-state movement by accepting inducements, in exchange of granting travellers passage.
“NOA will be partnering with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to provide toll-free numbers to enable Nigerians report such misconducts.
“There were lots of opportunistic crimes in some communities around the country in the wake of the lockdown. We, therefore, call on security agencies to increase their vigilance to stem such crimes,” he said.
While commending the media for the support in the fight against COVID-19, he however, appealed to them to go a step further by availing the agency free airtime to deepen COVID-19 sensitisation.
Abari reiterated his earlier call on Nigerians to strictly observe personal hygiene, social distancing and safety measures approved by health authorities to avoid contracting the virus under the partial lockdown.
The NOA boss said that, “the gradual and phased easing of the lockdown does not warrant carelessness.
“Rather, it calls for stricter compliance to the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).”
He urged Nigerians to intensify the practice of personal hygiene, especially regular hand washing with soap and water, or use of alcohol based hand sanitiser and use of face mask in public.
Abari said that maintenance of two meters distance from other people, refraining from handshakes, abstaining from gatherings of more than 20 persons and not going outdoors unless absolutely necessary, would help to curb the spread of the disease.
He also stressed the need for prompt reporting of cases of continuous dry cough or sneezing, difficulty in breathing and high temperature to the NCDC for immediate action.