covering COVID-19 in Nigeria

Kofoworola Belo-Osagie is based in Lagos, Nigeria, and works as the chief correspondent and head of the education desk at an English daily called The Nation. She covers the impact of the coronavirus on education and wrote about the feasibility of e-learning following the possible closure of schools in Nigeria mid March.

COVID-19 has changed the way beat reporters cover their area of expertise in the lead up to an uncertain future. We reached out to Kofoworola and asked her about the challenges she has been facing while looking at the unusual impact of the pandemic.

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“It’s been scary venturing out. The information space has been particularly fast paced in the last two weeks since the number of cases in Nigeria began to climb. For me it meant taking the right decision on stories to do. I remember tinkering with the “what if schools close” story three weeks ago. Back then we had only three reported cases,” she said.

Kofoworola added she did the story on Tuesday and the situation changed so quickly that she had to keep updating her story. She further shared that it has become difficult to find stories outside COVID-19 ever since the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari announced a lockdown from March 31. Ever since then, she has been keeping up with social media to find various issues, verify them and investigate by reaching out to the appropriate authorities or people involved.

Considering the intense situation around COVID-19 around the world, Kofoworola had planned well to tackle it even before the first case was reported in Nigeria on February 27.

“I got a pack of regular face masks and also recently bought a bottle of hand sanitizers after a long search for an affordable one with alcohol,” she said and added that prices of these items have increased over 300-500 per cent in most places. 

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By The Coalition for Women in Journalism

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