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Nigeria announces lockdown of major cities to curb coronavirus


Nigeria implemented a sweeping quarantine for 3 major states that are home to almost 30 million people during a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in Africa's most populous country.

The lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun kicks in at 11pm civil time (22:00 GMT) on Monday and can stay in situ for a minimum of period, President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Sunday, a bit over a month after Nigeria confirmed its first case.


"All citizens in these areas are to remain in their homes. jaunt or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this era," Buhari said in an address to the state.

Home to an estimated 20 million people, Lagos is Africa's most populous city and Nigeria's financial hub. Abuja is that the capital of the country and therefore the seat of its government. Oil-rich Rivers state and Kaduna state within the north earlier imposed similar lockdown measures.

The restrictions announced don't apply to hospitals and stores selling essential items like groceries and medicine.

"We will use this containment period to spot, trace and isolate all individuals that have get contact with confirmed cases," Buhari said.

Fear of price rises
The announcement triggered panic among many in Lagos, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak within the country which has thus far infected 111 people and caused one death.

On Monday, residents in Lagos flooded markets and stores to shop for food and other items.

Bose Odumosu, a mother of 5, told Al Jazeera that she's going to use the following hours to top off on food for her family.

"I was expecting the govt. to relinquish us some days to prepared our domestic needs before the announcement. I feel the sudden restriction will cause the worth of commodities to extend," Odumosu said.
Buhari said all branches of state are mobilised "to confront what has now become both a health emergency and an economic crisis", but the lockdown means additional financial pain for ample informal labourers who rely heavily on their daily earnings to survive.

Olatunji Akintan, a bricklayer, and his wife, a petty trader, board a two-room apartment with their two sons in Ojodu, a suburb of Lagos. Every day, Akintan commutes to different locations within the megacity in search of employment and only gets paid when he's hired by building contractors for the day.

Now, the 56-year-old faces a two-week home quarantine with none income.

"Since January, i've got not done much work so i've got no savings. i've got been thinking of what to try and do with the insufficient money i've got for 2 weeks," Akintan told Al Jazeera.

"How do I raise money now that I won't be working for the following few days? a number of us are forced to shop for food on credit if we will find those willing to sell."

In his speech, Buhari announced a series of measures aimed toward relieving a number of the economic pain including a three-month moratorium on government loan repayments.

"For the foremost vulnerable in our society, i've got directed that the conditional cash transfers for the following two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons also will receive two months of food rations within the coming weeks," Buhari said.

Financial analyst Oluwatosin Olaseinde said: "The biggest palliative obviously would be food."

"The president announced some exemptions in terms of movement for agricultural produce, which should help cushion the effect," Olaseinde told Al Jazeera, citing exemptions associated with food processing and distribution.

"Ideally, i'd like to see some financial assistance to groups captured in initiatives just like the Trader Money Scheme," she said, touching on a government project involving the distribution of loans to small traders to support their businesses.

Across the planet, the outbreak of the new coronavirus has strained healthcare systems and hit economies hard, with few countries expected to emerge unscathed by the pandemic's financial effect.

Nigeria is already feeling the pinch with oil prices plunging. The country is that the world's eighth-largest oil exporter, and almost 90 percent of its export earnings are tied to grease.

Shutting down the country's financial capital, Lagos, is anticipated to further increase an impending slump.

"There are a slowdown within the country's GDP for the primary quarter of the year," Olaseinde said. "You have five key states within the country essentially grounded. that may result in a loss of revenue for companies and individuals. you'll also see supply shocks."

Meanwhile, electricity remains a serious challenge within the country. the majority depend on costly diesel-powered generators to power their homes and keep businesses afloat.

"How do I sustain my job on generators for 14 days if we still experience chronic power shortages? That's almost impossible," IT system analyst Samuel Edeh told Al Jazeera.

"I hope they need factored steady power supply into the lockdown plan in order that a number of us can continue with work on home," he told Al Jazeera.

Families also are hoping for normal power supply during the amount of quarantine.

"With regular electricity, I can store my food and also keep my children entertained during the lockdown," Odumosu said.

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