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Nigeria relaxes lockdown despite rise in virus cases

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Country has recorded more cases of the coronavirus in the past week than the previous eight weeks put together

DESPITE the rise of Covid-19 infections, Nigeria is preparing to relax its lockdown regulations from Monday, the Premium Times online newspaper reported.

The publication said the West African country had recorded more cases of the coronavirus in the past week than the previous eight weeks put together.

Regardless, President Muhammadu Buhari had announced that businesses would now operate almost close to normal but with certain restrictions in place, including an 8pm to 6am curfew as well as the use of face masks and physical distancing.

Premium Times said the relaxation measures had received mixed reaction, with some saying they were necessary given the insufficient help the government had offered to companies during the lockdown, while others said there was a danger of new Covid-19 transmissions rising.

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) said it carried out a detailed survey and analysis of the pattern of spread since the imposition of the initial lockdown which showed that a relaxation of the regulations was ill-advised.

“What Nigeria rather needs now is a national lockdown and not lifting of the partial lockdown … Like we had highlighted in previous statements, a lockdown on its own without complementary action was not going to achieve much,” CUPP said in a statement.

Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that as of Sunday, Nigeria had recorded 2 558 confirmed cases, with 87 people having died of related complications, while 400 had been discharged.

According to Premium Times, since last week the pandemic has spread to six new states in addition to the previous 28 states including the capital Abuja, leaving only two states without any infections.

While Lagos remains the epicentre, there was a major surge in Kano, which has moved up to second position on the NCDC chart, displacing Abuja to third position.

Premium Times cited information on real-time data website Worldometer showing that Nigeria had the worst testing coverage among countries with over 1 000 cases in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

It said NCDC director-general Chikwe Ihekweazu had indicated that the government had set a target of two million tests over the next three months.

In what could be a cautionary tale against prematurely easing restrictions in the fight against the coronavirus, fellow West African state Ghana has seen a spike in Covid-19 infections 10 days after President Nana Akufo-Addo eased a three-week lockdown in the capital Accra and the city of Kumasi.

The Ghana Health Service reported over 400 new cases, bringing the national total to 2 169.

– African News Agency (ANA)