ABUJA, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Nigeria faces oxygen supply challenges to treat coronavirus patients in parts of the country and unacceptable laboratory delays as case numbers rose to the highest recorded in a single week, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The new warnings from Nigerian officials come as the resurgent virus strikes across much of the world, bringing greater case loads and hospitalisations.

“There is an on-going review of the chain for the supply of medical oxygen for our medical facilities across the nation,” said Boss Mustapha, chairman of Nigeria’s coronavirus task force, naming the capital of Abuja as an area of concern.

Labs’ “inability to function optimally has resulted in unacceptable levels of delay in receiving results,” he added, calling on Nigeria’s state governments to reopen all laboratories, ensure prompt testing and keep open treatment centres. “This is not helping our national response.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has recorded few coronavirus cases compared to others on the continent. Since the beginning of the pandemic, officials count 84,811 as of Tuesday evening, with 1,264 deaths.

South Africa, with a population little more than a quarter of Nigeria’s, has recorded 1 million cases. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Paul Carsten; editing by David Evans)

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