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Nigeria to ease lockdown in major cities

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Goal to balance need to protect health while also preserving livelihoods

NIGERIAN President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the gradual easing of lockdown measures in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as Lagos and Ogun states.

He announced late on Monday that the more than four-week lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus would be gradually eased from May 4.

In a national broadcast, Buhari said he had reviewed the lockdown to allow the nation’s economy to function while the government maintains an “aggressive response” towards containing the virus.

“I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun states effective from Monday, May 4, 2020,” he said.

He added that in the past two weeks the federal and state governments had jointly and collaboratively worked hard on how to balance the need to protect health while also preserving livelihoods; leveraging global best practices while keeping in mind their “peculiar circumstances”.

“Our goal was to develop implementable policies that will ensure our economy continues to function while still maintaining our aggressive response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These same difficult decisions are being faced by leaders around the world.”

He said he had approved the phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states in line with the recommendations of the presidential task force on Covid-19, the various federal government committees that reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum.

He said this would be followed with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact-tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.

“There will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period except for essential services and there will be a ban on non-essential interstate passenger travel until further notice.

“Partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers and we will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene,” he said.

Buhari added that the revised guidelines did not apply to Kano State and he had directed the enforcement of a total lockdown for a period of two weeks, effective immediately.

The president first announced a total lockdown in major cities for 14 days on March 29 and extended it on April 14 for another 14 days.

Nigeria has 1 273 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 40 deaths, according to an update provided on Monday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The country reported its first case on February 27.

– African News Agency (ANA)