Nigeria to lift some covid-19 lockdown restriction on 4 May

Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari has announced some easing of the covid-19 restrictions as from 4 May.

Restrictions were imposed on Lagos, Abuja (Federal Capital Territory) and Ogun on 30 March, with many other state governors subsequently imposing similar bans. 

Nigeria's more severe economic restrictions, such as the closure of services and small businesses, will be lifted because much of the population depends heavily on the informal economy to survive. Details plans will be released before 4 May. Fears of increasing violence have also been a reason for lifting some of the harsher restrictions.

However interstate borders will remain closed across the country (except for goods and services), wearing of masks will be compulsory, social distancing measures will stay in place and religious and social gatherings will still be banned. A curfew will be imposed from 20.00-06.00.

An extension of the lockdown has been imposed for another two weeks on the northern state of Kano where 38 new deaths were recorded on 28 April, although the governor says these may not all be the result of covid-19.

Lifting of restrictions to help the informal economy comes at a time when the cases of covid-19 are on the increase across the country. On 28 April the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reported a total of 1,532 cases, and 255 registered deaths. The 195 new cases and four more deaths reported on 28 April were the highest daily records to date. 15 of the country's states reported new cases, with the highest number in Lagos with 80 new cases, followed by Kano with 38, which are now under investigation. The states of Enugu, Rivers and Delta, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) only reported one new case each. 34 of the Nigeria's 36 states have now been affected by covid-19.

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According to the WHO Africa regional office figures reported on 29 April Nigeria now has the fifth highest number of covid-19 cases in the WHO Africa region, after South Africa with 4,996 cases, Algeria with 3,649, Cameroon 1,705, Ghana 1,671.

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West Africa is the worst affected region on the continent after north Africa, which comes under the WHO Eastern Mediterranean regional office, which on 29 April reported Egypt had 5,042 cases, Morocco 4,252, Tunisia 975, Somalia 528, Sudan 318, Libya 61.

ph: ariyo olasunkanmi /