The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 says it will launch a platform next week that will verify the originality of results from anywhere around the world.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made this known on Monday in Abuja at the PTF national briefing on COVID-19.
Ihekweazu, who called on private laboratories conducting COVID-19 test to join the platform to have their data checked and be properly managed, noted that such labs risk losing their test right if they fail to join.
The NCDC boss also said that Nigeria recorded 29 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19, with results coming from different states.
He noted that the centre had also activated a short code– “6232” to have more access to Nigerians.
He explained that “this number was introduced to enable the public to contact NCDC’s Connect Centre and access verified information on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.”
Ihekweazu said that with the dialing of 6232, an agent of the NCDC would always be handy to assist with any information.
He added that the short code was a toll free and easy-to-remember number, “which means that all calls to NCDC through 6232 are free of charge.
“This is to ensure that all Nigerians have access to verified information on infectious diseases.
“In 2016, NCDC established its Connect Centre as a critical aspect of its event-based surveillance and risk communications strategy. Over the years, this has been used for the response to infectious disease outbreaks such as Lassa fever, monkeypox, yellow fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, among others.
“Following the confirmation of Nigeria’s first COVID-19 case, NCDC immediately expanded its Connect Centre capacity to meet the increasing need for information by Nigerians. This was done in close collaboration with relevant government institutions and with support from our partners”
The call lines were expanded to receive multiple calls simultaneously, as automated chatbots were activated to disseminate information in real-time, additional human resource and volunteers were engaged, and a new quality assurance system was introduced.
According to him, between March and December 2020, the NCDC Connect Centre received over 580,000 COVID-19-related phone calls.
“The short code number 6232 will be used alongside the existing toll free number – 0800 9700 0010, with a gradual phase-out of the existing toll free number,” he added. (NAN)