The Nigerian president on Tuesday extended the mandate of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 till the end of March 2021 as the West African country faces a second wave of coronavirus.

The task force was established by Muhammadu Buhari on March 9, 2020 to coordinate and oversee Nigeria’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts to contain the spread of the novel virus.

In a series of tweets, Buhari said he took the decision because of a surge in the number of cases, and to procure vaccines.

Nigeria has recorded more than of 78,790 COVID-19 infections and 1,227 related deaths across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“Nigeria cannot afford to lose the gains of the last nine months,” he said. “I have critically evaluated the situation and remain convinced that urgent measures have to be taken to halt the spread of the coronavirus and the attendant fatalities.”

Buhari urged all citizens to be vigilant and stay safe as the festive season approaches. “Non-essential trips and large social gatherings should be avoided or shelved completely.”

In a statement, the NCDC said it is escalating its ongoing public communication efforts through a new campaign themed #CelebrateResponsibly.

“In the last two weeks, there has been a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country. On the 17th of December, a record daily number of 1,145 new confirmed cases was recorded.

“This increase is as a result of a convergence of circumstances which includes increased local and international travels, business and religious activities with minimal compliance with COVID-19 safety measures by the members of the public,” it said.

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