Nigeria’s president said the country will begin a ‘phased and gradual’ easing of lockdown restrictions to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the capital, Lagos, Abuja and Ogun States May 4.
Lagos and Ogun states and the federal capital territory of Abuja entered lockdowns to tame the spread of the new coronavirus on March 30.
In a national broadcast late Monday, Muhammadu Buhari said he made the decision after reviewing the more than four week lockdown to allow the country’s economy to operate and still keep a steady response in containing the virus.
During his last broadcast two weeks ago, Buhari ordered the extension of the lockdown by 14-days but not many Nigerians adhered to that directive.
Buhari said the lockdowns had come at a “very heavy economic cost,” stripping many citizens of their livelihoods.
“No country can afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines,” Buhari said.
Millions of Nigeria’s 200 million citizens, more than 20 million of whom live in Lagos, live on daily wages, and the lockdown left many without money to buy food.
The new ease comes with the responsibility of mandatory use of face masks and a curfew from 8pm to 6am. With only essential travel allowed during the 10 hour period.
The president also announced he will be sending more health workers and equipment to northwest Kano state where the lockdown will remain in place because of an increases in the number of infections.
Buhari also promises to hold security personnel accountable for human rights abuses during the lockdown.
The federal government will also enforce a ban on non-essential movement between Nigeria’s 36 states, a measure the governors’ forum had requested.
President Buhari, however, announced a new two-week lockdown in the northern state of Kano, effective immediately. Cases there have risen to 77, putting it behind only Lagos and Abuja, and public health authorities are investigating a reported spike in suspicious deaths in the economically powerful capital city of the same name.
“The federal government shall deploy all the necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic,” Buhari said.