It also blamed delayed testing for the virus as being responsible for some of the fatalities recorded so far.
The Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, gave the warning on Monday at a briefing of the taskforce.
Persecondnews reports that on Monday, the cases in the country have risen from 442 cases on April 16 to 5,621 on May 16 and to 17, 148 cases on June 16.
Mustapha said the citizens have a choice to make in helping to curtail the spread and impacts of the virus in the country.
“I implore us not to be afraid of undertaking the COVID-19 test. Testing positive for COVID-19 is not a death sentence, but failure to test, especially when symptoms are evident could result to death as it may be too late once the symptoms become full blown.
“The loss of any Nigerian is not only painful but most avoidable provided we seek help early.
“As we pursue the Community Engagement and Risk Communication Strategy, the PTF has identified lack of information about case definition protocols, location of testing centres, inability to reach call centres, etc as obstacles to getting needed help.
“The PTF has, therefore, directed that more awareness be created on the location of test centres and how to get tested especially when you fit the case definition. The call centres are also being re-energized for responsiveness.
“Our messaging on risk communication and compliance by the public will also receive very strong attention. We must develop a national wave of awareness creation to drive home our objectives.”
Mustapha recalled that in early June, the PTF announced a one month period for the implementation of the second phase of eased lock down, adding that the taskforce has continued to monitor developments nationwide in order to take informed decisions at the end of the month.
“We have exactly eight days to that point of decision. While pursuing that line of action, the PTF will like to re-echo the WHO advisory to countries and their citizens not to equate any slow-down in numbers accompanied by loosening of restrictive measures to translate to a reduction in the dangers faced by humanity.
“However, we are not deluded that we are getting enough samples to test. I wish to remind all our citizens that the best strategy remains to test, detect, isolate and treat. That has accounted for the massive expansion in the laboratory network and testing centres,” Mustapha said.
He said that the PTF has also continued to watch developments from other jurisdictions especially those that have similar conditions and demographics.
The PTF Chairman pointed out: “Here Brazil is of particular interest. You would have observed that the number of confirmed cases in Brazil have risen to 1,084,833 thus becoming the second highest in the whole world and reporting over 50,000 deaths.
“In Africa, WHO has reported that South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana have proportionately been the most affected countries on the continent of Africa.
“All these, combined, represent a serious wake up call for us all to be responsive and to take full responsibility. Our failure to take responsibility threatens the gains we have recorded which is not good for our large population.”