Nigeria has put six states on red alert after seeing a “worrisome” rise in COVID-19 infections, a government official said, urging people to curb gatherings and hold prayers outside mosques during this week’s Muslim festival Eid-el-Kabir. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is like most parts of the continent now facing a COVID-19 third wave after detecting the more transmissible Delta variant. The head of the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory had been placed on red alert as part of preventive measures against the pandemic. A red alert allows authorities in the states to restrict celebrations and gatherings to a minimum. “These steps are critical as we begin to see worrisome early signs of increasing cases in Nigeria,” Mustapha said in a statement. Mustapha said there was potential for wider spread of the virus during the Eid-el-Kabir gatherings and said Friday prayers should be held outside local mosques. Last week, Nigeria, which has recorded 169 329 cases and 2 126 deaths said it expected to receive nearly 8 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of August, including from a US government donation.