The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, says the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country should be a warning that fatalities will increase too.

The minister said this in Abuja on Thursday during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

He, however, noted that there were measures that could be taken to limit the fatality rate.

He said: “Since majority of fatalities are over 50 years of age or have pre-existing ailments like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, HIV, among others; this group of citizens has to be specially protected.

“This protection begins with limiting their exposure to risks of COVID-19 infection by urging stay at home, except there’s urgent and dire need to go out; to wear a face mask or a covering at any time, once outside the house, or when inside the house with persons who may have been exposed.

“Going to places where there can be a crowd like market or also places of worship carries risk of increased exposure and being in a closed room increases the risk of exposure to infection in proportion to the number of people and the length of time spent with them because the likelihood of presence of a positive person increases with the number and infection with time of exposure.

“A vulnerable person is not among those who should risk staying at home because complications can arise easily and suddenly or at an odd hour of the day or night when there’ll be no immediate help available.

“Any person who tested positive and opted to stay home or elsewhere should move to a treatment centre at the first sign of fever or shortness of breath.

“A delay can be fatal because the disease progression can be unpredictable and faster than imagined.

“With these important measures, we could mitigate the fatality rate.

“The novel coronavirus is still among us and is infecting people daily, including prominent members of the society.

“Friends and family have an increasingly important role to play in helping to guide compliance with this advisory.

“Till it goes away, we must take extreme precaution when going to public places.”

Ehanire disclosed that treatment centres would be getting an advisory to test the applicability of a drug recently repurposed and found effective for COVID-19 treatment.

He also said Nigeria had signed a bilateral agreement with North Korea in the area of public health and medical sciences.