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Lagos' coronavirus helpline receives over 31,000 fake calls in just 2 weeks

80% of calls received on the helpline have been deemed distracting by authorities.

Lagos Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, says thousands of distracting phone calls have been fielded on the state's coronavirus helpline [Twitter/@ProfAkinAbayomi]

This was disclosed by the state's Commissiner for Health, Akin Abayomi, during a media briefing on Monday, April 6, 2020.

According to charts shown to the media, a total of 38,800 phone calls were received on 0800CORONA, the state's helpline, between March 16 and April 1.

Only 3,601 (9%) of these calls were from people feeling symptoms similar to that of coronavirus, and considered valid.

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A further 4,311 (11%) of the calls were received from people seeking information on coronavirus, and people providing anonymous tips on suspected cases in their community.

The remaining 80%, a whopping 31,040 of the calls, were branded as hoax calls that were very distracting for operators managing the helpline.

"80% of the calls we receive are hoax calls - people calling in to test the number, make pranks and calling with aggressive language.

"They are making it difficult for people that really need help to get through," Abayomi said.

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Since Nigeria's first confirmed case in February, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has made several appeals to the public to stop overloading the emergency helplines with bogus calls.

"The first thing is please reduce the number of calls if it's not necessary. We get a lot of calls that people can go to our website and get basic information.

"Stop clogging up the numbers with phone calls you really don't need. There's a lot of information on the NCDC website, go there.

"Let's limit the calls to people that really have something important," the agency's director general, Chikwe Ihekweazu, appealed in March.

In the presentation, Lagos estimated that the NCDC call centre will have received over 60,000 hoax calls within the same timeframe.

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Nigeria has recorded a total of 238 coronavirus cases in 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as of April 6.

35 patients have recovered and been discharged to go back home, but a total of five people have died in Lagos, FCT, and Edo.

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