Nigeria will restrict all movement of people and ordered businesses and offices closed in its two main cities, Lagos and Abuja, as well as Ogun state -- the three areas in Africa’s most populous nation that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.
The lockdown will take effect Monday at 11 p.m. and last for an initial period of two weeks, President Muhammadu Buhari said in a speech on state TV Sunday. The first country in sub-Saharan Africa to identify a person who tested positive for the disease, Nigeria now has 97 cases. It’s already closed its borders and halted domestic flights.
Lagos, Africa’s biggest city, is a sprawling metropolis of about 20 million people, and Abuja, the capital, has several million. Ogun state neighbors Lagos and is an industrial hub.
“We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens,” Buhari said. “But this is a matter of life and death.”
While travel to or from other states must be restricted, the seaports will remain open for cargo. Private jets will also be grounded and all federal government stadia will be converted into isolation centers and makeshift hospitals, he said.
Among other measures announced by Buhari are the suspension of repayments for credit given to low-income traders and farmers, as well as for manufacturers and agribusinesses that have received funding as part of Buhari’s policy to reduce Nigeria’s dependence on oil.
By Ruth Olurounbi and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo