President Buhari announced plans to ease movement restrictions imposed late last month in three key states in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a televised speech on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari said that “he had approved a gradual and gradual reduction of the blockade measures in the states of FCT, Lagos and Ogun as of Monday, May 4, 2020.” FCT stands for Federal Capital Territory and includes the national capital, Abuja.
Buhari said, “Federal and state governments have worked together and collaboratively to determine how to balance the need to protect health while preserving livelihoods, taking advantage of global best practices and taking into account our unique circumstances.”
But the president also announced new measures that include a national curfew from 8 pm to 6 am, the mandatory use of face masks and a ban on “non-essential” travel between different regions.
It also announced an immediate two-week shutdown in Kano, the country’s most populous state, after authorities said they were investigating a series of “mysterious deaths.”
The northern state government said preliminary investigations revealed that the deaths were caused by complications of hypertension, diabetes, meningitis and acute malaria.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with some 200 million people, has recorded 1,273 cases of coronavirus and 40 deaths.
The country first introduced measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on March 30 by announcing a complete blockade of the commercial capital, Lagos, neighboring Ogun and Abuja.
The decision has affected economic activities, inflicting financial pain on millions of informal workers who depend on daily wages to survive.
The President acknowledged that this had partially informed the decision to ease the restrictions.
“Many of our citizens have lost their livelihoods. Many companies have closed,” Buhari said.
“No country can afford the full impact of a sustained blockade while waiting for vaccine development,” he added.
“We review how our farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season to ensure that our food security is not compromised.”