Buhari sets May date for lifting coronavirus lockdown in Nigeria

By Paul Myers - RFI
Europe REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
APR 28, 2020 LISTEN
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has targeted 4 May as the date for relaxing the lockdowns on the capital Abuja as well as well as the country's largest city Lagos.

More than 25 million people have been living under restrictions since 30 March as part of the measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

But as the president outlined plans for the start of a return towards normality in the two cities as well as Ogun state, he announced an immediate two-week lockdown in Kano, northern Nigeria's largest city, after officials said they were probing a spate of what they called mysterious deaths.

Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Kano state governor, insisted initial indications suggested they were not linked to coronavirus.

"I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures," Buhari said in a televised broadcast on Monday.

"Such lockdowns have also come at a very heavy economic cost. Many of our citizens have lost their means of livelihood. Many businesses have shut down," Buhari added.  

Fighting for economy
Buhari also unveiled measures including a nationwide night-time curfew and the compulsory wearing of face masks. He also said there would be a ban on non-essential travel between different regions.

“The measures are implementable policies that will ensure our economy continues to function while still maintaining our aggressive response to the Covid-19 pandemic," he added.

Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, is Africa's most populous country. It has reported 1,273 confirmed infections of coronavirus and registered 40 deaths.

But officials fear the figures could be higher as there has been limited testing.

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