People shop at a roadside market with few customers in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: Sunday Alamba/AP
People shop at a roadside market with few customers in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: Sunday Alamba/AP

Nigeria to extend coronavirus lockdown in 3 states for two more weeks

By Libby George Time of article published Apr 13, 2020

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Lagos - Nigeria will extend lockdowns in

Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states for an additional 14 days to combat

the new coronavirus, President Muhammadu Buhari said in an

address to the nation on Monday that acknowledged the sacrifices

of the country's poor

Initial 14-day lockdowns in the three areas began on March

30. Buhari said it was crucial to extend the lockdown due to an

"alarming" increase in positive cases in a number of states.

"It is a matter of life and death," Buhari said of the

nation's response. "The repercussions of any premature end to

the lockdown action are unimaginable."

There are currently 323 confirmed cases of the virus in

Nigeria, nearly three-quarters of them in Lagos and the capital

territory of Abuja, and 10 people have died from the virus.

Nigeria, with 200 million people, is Africa's most populous

nation. Some 20 million reside in the megacity of Lagos alone.

Health experts have raised the alarm over the impact of any

spread in the virus, warning that the country's unprepared and

underfunded healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed.

But the economic impact on the millions of Nigerians who

rely on daily wages, particularly in Lagos, has hit residents

hard. The shutdown exempts only critical workers, including

those selling food, water and medicine, but has left many

without money to buy food and other essentials.

Videos have circulated on social media showing armed

robberies, fires and small riots in some Lagos neighbourhoods.

Earlier on Monday, the police said they would deploy

additional units to Lagos and Ogun to tackle unrest and crime

stemming directly from the lockdowns.

   

The Lagos state government has been distributing food

packages to 200,000 of the state's most vulnerable households,

and plans to double the aid.

Buhari did not address the unrest specifically, other than

saying he urged the security forces to "maintain utmost

vigilance", but he acknowledged the difficulties many people

would facing by sticking to the rules.

"We made this very difficult decision knowing fully well it

will severely disrupt your livelihoods and bring undue hardship

to you, your loved ones and your communities," he said.

"However, such sacrifices are needed to limit the spread of

COVID-19 in our country."

He said the federal government, which has also been

distributing cash and food, would add 1 million households to

the programme, which is currently targeting 2.6 million.

He also said the government would develop a comprehensive

policy to bring its economy through the crisis, and set up a

task force to minimise the impact of lockdowns on farmers and

the agricultural sector. 

Reuters

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