- The outbreak in Kano has become a major cause of concern after medics and residents last month began reporting a spike in deaths.
- Regional officials at first put the “unexplained” fatalities down to other ailments, but government investigators later said coronavirus was suspected in most cases.
ABUJA: Nigeria’s government on Monday extended a coronavirus lockdown on the northern region of Kano after it became a hotspot for new infections.
The head of the country’s coronavirus taskforce, Boss Mustapha, said the lockdown on the economic hub — which includes Nigeria’s second biggest city — would be prolonged for two weeks.
The authorities will also start to impose “precision” lockdowns in any other areas that report a “rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises”, he said.
The outbreak in Kano has become a major cause of concern after medics and residents last month began reporting a spike in deaths.
Regional officials at first put the “unexplained” fatalities down to other ailments, but government investigators later said coronavirus was suspected in most cases.
Neighbouring states to Kano have also begun reporting suspicious surges in death tolls that authorities are scrambling to investigate.
Nigeria has confirmed 5,959 infections and 182 deaths from the novel coronavirus across the country.
Kano is the second hardest hit region with 825 confirmed cases and 36 fatalities.
The region has already been under lockdown for a month but enforcement has been lax and measures have been eased sporadically for people to buy food during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Testing has been a key problem across Nigeria and only 35,345 samples have so far been screened in Africa’s most populous nation of 200 million people.
Mustapha insisted there had been a slowdown in the transmission rate of the virus, “elongating the doubling time” from seven to 11 days.
But he announced that measures would remain in place limiting businesses and restricting crowds across the rest of the country despite earlier plans to gradually roll them back.
“Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority,” he said.
The government has also imposed a night-time curfew and made mask wearing mandatory in all regions.
Mustapha complained that “non-compliance was rampant” with social distancing measures.
“The fight against COVID-19 is long-term as the virus is not likely to go away very soon,” he said.