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The number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria has topped 48,000 as the government vows to take a full response strategy.

A total of 373 fresh confirmed cases were reported by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) late Thursday, bringing the tally in the country to 48,116.

The number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus has reached 966, with recoveries standing at 34,309, according to NCDC data.

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, where the country’s index case was reported on Feb. 27, has remained the epicenter of COVID-19, with 15,355 confirmed cases, or almost one third of the national total.

Among the confirmed cases in Nigeria, 684 were Nigerian citizens who were evacuated from other countries afflicted with COVID-19.

Those 684 were part of 13,844 evacuees tested from the 14,906 persons evacuated so far, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, told media in Abuja on Thursday.

“Of the 14,906 evacuees received during this COVID-19 pandemic, close to 80 percent are youths,” Mustapha said. “In the coming days, we hope to receive more evacuees from different parts of the world.”

A multi-sectoral national emergency operations center activated at Level 3 has continued to coordinate the national response activities across the country.

However, the government said more is needed to combat and ultimately manage the COVID-19 spread.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 said it is working with partners to implement a comprehensive and aggressive engagement response to the pandemic in the country.

Sani Aliyu, coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19, told reporters in Abuja on Thursday that in the course of this implementation, authorities have come across a lot of disbelief, apathy, and fatigue, which hampers compliance and behavior change among Nigerians.

“We recognize that behavior change takes time, and if we are to implement a multi-pronged strategy, particularly working with risk communication and community engagement pillar, we should be able to address some of these challenges,” Aliyu said.

According to him, in the area of risk communication, the task force has continued to communicate messages and the reasoning behind non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Authorities have published information on testing locations in all states and their phone numbers amid strengthened efforts to enhance community engagement, sensitization and awareness campaigns, Aliyu said.

“There’s a lot of campaign going on the social media and TV stations with sharing the experience of COVID-19 survivors willing to share their stories with us,” he said. “We are grateful for their consent to do so.”

This new approach, he said, is important to helping Nigerians better understand the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Those that will help do this are those who survive the virus because they know it was real,” he added.

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