A police office speaks to passengers to enforce social distancing in Lagos, Nigeria (Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP)

False claims that Nigeria is coronavirus-free circulate online

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Posts shared thousands of times on Facebook in Canada claim that Nigeria was free of the novel coronavirus as early as March 2020. This is false; data from the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) show that new cases have been reported every week in Nigeria since February 27. 

This article, posted here on Facebook on March 15, 2020, has been shared over 14,000 times since. The same article has also been shared here, here and here.

The article by US-based website Black Culture News alleged that “Nigeria is one of the countries that is Coronavirus free which is a shock to the world”.

“They had two cases but now tested negative. First and second coronavirus patient has fully recovered and is back home.”

A screenshot taken on April 3, 2020, showing the misleading post

More than 160 active cases

When the article was published on March 13, Nigeria had two confirmed cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization's situation report at the time. 

The number of cases have kept climbing since. As of April 3, 2020, Nigeria had reported 190 COVID-19 cases, according to data from its centre for disease control (NCDC). So far, 20 people have been discharged, while two deaths have been recorded, leaving the country with more than 160 active cases.

The world has now recorded more than one million cases of COVID-19, and no country affected has been declared coronavirus-free by the WHO.