Nigerian musician, Naira Marley, is facing criticism on Twitter for posting a comment on the social media site, viewed as an attempt to cast doubt on the existence of the novel coronavirus.
“Retweet if u don’t believe in CoronaVirus,” Marley, whose real name is Azeez Fashola, said in a Twitter post on Monday.
The post, with more than 3,000 retweets and 13,000 likes, has attracted angry reactions from Twitter users, with one person calling on the Lagos state government and the Nigerian police to arrest Mr Marley “for endangering public health safety”.
Confirmed cases of the virus have so far risen to 40 in Nigeria on Tuesday morning, with one death so far.
A Twitter user (@tony_divine81) said Mr Marley is one of the “yeyebrities (foolish celebrities)” in Nigeria, because of the comment he made on the coronavirus.
Most of the people who reacted to it regarded Mr Marley’s comment as being inappropriate.
“If this is some joke, then it is one taken too far,” one Twitter user (@RayNkah) said. “With your ‘platform’ you could do better.”
“Please be guided. And if you must know, #COVID19 is not an abstract concept validated by faith. It is a scientifically proven state of ‘unwellness’ with life-threatening consequences,” the commenter added.
“This is irresponsible behaviour. You are putting people in danger by sending out this kind of message. Covid-19 is a serious public health crisis. You should be directing your fans to follow safety directives. This is a wrong use of your ‘celebrity,” another commenter said.
“Funny enough this guy is educated but keeps serving his followers with illiterate pieces of information and they foolishly follow him in the name of #Marlians,” said yet another commenter.
Some people have called on Twitter to suspend Mr Marley’s account.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, declared COVID-19 a pandemic and since then, the spread has worsened and more deaths have occurred.
The spread of the disease has also led to countries locking in millions of their citizens, closing social spaces, locking down entire regions and shutting their doors against travellers from other countries.
Nigeria has taken a number of measures to contain the spread. These include closing the borders and suspending international flights. Different states have also been releasing their preventive or containment measures, as the need arises.
Following the confirmation of 10 new cases in Edo, Lagos, and the Federal Capital Territory on Monday, the number of individuals who have tested positive to the novel coronavirus disease in Nigeria has risen to 40.
“Of the ten (10) new cases, one (1) is in Edo State, two (3) are in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and six (6) are in Lagos State,” the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control said in an update on Monday night.
“The case in Edo State is being treated at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital; cases in the FCT are being treated at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada; and the cases in Lagos State are being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba.
“All six (6) new cases have mild to moderate symptoms and are currently receiving treatment.”
Edo in South-south Nigeria is producing its first case and becoming the sixth of the country’s 36 states and FCT where cases have emerged since an unnamed Italian tested positive.
Of the 40 coronavirus cases so far confirmed, two cases have been discharged and one death has been recorded.
A breakdown of the cases by states showed that Lagos has 28, FCT – 7, Ogun- 2, Ekiti – 1, Oyo – 1 and Edo – 1.
In its Monday update, the NCDC said a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at level 3, was continuing to coordinate the national response activities.