Sat, 15 Aug 2020

LAGOS, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria continued to witness rapidly rising COVID-19 cases with the country reporting 595 new cases on Monday night, bringing the country's total to 33,153.

The total cases included 744 deaths and 13,671 recoveries amid plans by the presidential task force to develop an exit strategy beyond September 2020.

The new infections were recorded in 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory, said a statement released by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

The Nigerian government had in March inaugurated a presidential task force to manage the COVID-19 outbreak with a six months' timeline to deliberate on the terms of references given to them.

These terms of reference include strengthening the national response strategy, particularly in the areas of testing, containment, and management of COVID-19, and strengthening collaboration with all tiers of government, private sector, faith-based organizations, civil societies, donors and partners, building awareness among the populace, and directing the deployment of any relevant national assets when necessary.

Boss Mustapha, chairman of the task force and secretary to the government of the federation, told reporters in Abuja on Monday that the task force would develop an exit strategy beyond September 2020.

He said an enhanced risk communication strategy would be designed to educate the citizenry on the virulence of the virus, individual and collective roles, but more importantly, to tackle the deliberate misinformation being bandied around, especially in the social media.

"An enhanced risk communication strategy becomes inevitable when we realize that within the last 24 hours, the world witnessed the largest single-day cases of 230,370, while in Nigeria, last week we recorded the highest weekly fatality of 70 deaths," he added.

"The rising fatalities in Nigeria are not unconnected with denial and delay in seeking help," he said.

On the government approach, the senior government official told reporters that the task force has conducted a mid-term review of its National Response Strategy on the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the country.

The objectives were to review the task force's achievements, challenges, and opportunities for improvement of COVID-19 response efforts from its inception to June 30, Mustapha said.

The West Africa nation initially imposed a nationwide lockdown in March to curb the spread of the virus and introduced phased relaxation on the restrictions from May, citing the lockdown's impact on the economy and people's lives.

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