The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, has called on Nigerians to not clog up its coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline with unnecessary phone calls.
The agency has been in the front-line of managing Nigeria's response to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down activities across the whole world, but many Nigerians have expressed dissatisfaction with that response with the helpline response one of the most prominent criticism.
While speaking during an interview on Channels Television on Monday, March 23, 2020, Ihekweazu apologised for some of the highlighted lapses.
According to him, the agency has had to scale up its capacity in a rush, leading to some of the hiccups experienced.
"We've gone from a call centre that was barely busy prior to this when we got three, four, five calls a day to literally three to five thousand calls a day.
"We've had to train new people to increase capacity. There will be some quality issues. I'd to beg Nigerians to bear with us. None of this is what we'd like, but we're working very hard," he said.
Ihekweazu noted that even though the team is doing its best to be effective, it is so stretched operationally that unnecessary calls placed to it make the job harder. He called on Nigerians to only place calls to the helpline if it is absolutely necessary.
He said, "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.
"We are working hard on our side to improve the quality of the responses. Even if we're not perfect, it will get better in the next few days."
Nigeria has recorded 30 cases of coronavirus in the country, but two of them have made full recoveries and been released.
Ihekweazu said during the interview that more cases will be announced later on Monday.
The NCDC's toll-free helpline is 080097000010.