COVID-19: Buhari Extends Lockdown By One Week As Nigeria Ramps Up Testing

The lockdown in Lagos, Ogun states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been extended by one week, President Muhammadu Buhari said during his national broadcast on Monday.

Since March 30, the lockdown has been in effect. The first phase ended on April 13 and another 14 days was initiated and billed to end on April 27.

In his third national broadcast since the pandemic hit Nigeria, Buhari said the lockdown will be relaxed gradually starting from the morning of Monday, May 4.

He stated that the decision was essential because even though the restriction on movement has contributed to the reduced spread of the coronavirus, it came with huge economic costs.

“Many of our citizens have lost their means of livelihoods. Many businesses have also shut down. No country can afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines or cures,” President Buhari explained.

He said, in the past two weeks, the federal and state governments considered strategies on how to protect the public health while equally preserving livelihoods, how factories and businesses can continue to function, how children can continue to learn without compromising their safety, and how farmers can work during the planting season in ensuring food security.

The goal, he said, was to “develop implementable policies that will ensure our economy continues to function while still maintaining our aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on the above and in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum.

“I have approved for a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, May 4, 2020 at 9 am.

“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”

According to the new measures, certain businesses and offices can open between 9 am and 6 pm, movements will be prohibited except for essential service providers between 8 pm and 6 am; non-essential inter-state passenger travelling remains prohibited until further notice.

The use of face masks and social distancing in public will be mandatory, and restrictions on social and religious gatherings remain in place.

The president pleaded, “State Governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.”

According to Buhari, state governments are free to amend the guidelines based on their unique circumstances as long as they obey regulations regarding public health and hygiene.

However, in Kano State, the lockdown remains total as announced by the government and “shall remain enforced for the full duration”.

President Buhari also said Nigeria’s number of confirmed cases has commendably fallen short of the predicted estimate of 2,000 in the first month after the index case.

He said, “This means that despite the drastic increase in the number of confirmed cases recorded in the past two weeks, the measures we have put in place thus far have yielded positive outcomes against the projections.

“Several new fully equipped treatment and isolation centres have been operationalised across the country thereby increasing bed capacity to about three thousand.

“At this point, I will commend the State Governors for the activation of State-level Emergency Operation Centres, establishment of new treatment centres and the delivery of aggressive risk communication strategies,” he said.

Buhari described the distribution and expansion of palliatives as transparent despite “seeming frustration being faced by expectant citizens” and urged potential beneficiaries to exercise patience.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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