COVID-19: Nigeria steps up measures, closes borders

With 65 positive cases, it is the ninth-most affected country in Africa

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 27 March 2020

As novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continued to spread in Africa, Nigeria reported 65 cases as on March 27, 2020. It is the ninth- most affected country in the continent.

The first positive case was reported in the country on February 28. The biggest spike of 22 cases was on March 25.

Lagos is the epicentre with about half of country’s positive cases (32), according to the health ministry. It is one of the largest cities in Africa with a population of 13.9 million.

The city received a grant of Rs 10 billion Naira from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. It is aimed at increasing the city’s capacity to contain the outbreak and support other states in capacity-building.

The president also announced release of 5 billion naira special intervention fund to Nigeria Center for Disease Control. The grant will help equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country.

All international airports and borders closed

The President directed closure of all international airports and land borders for four weeks. The move has been taken to work on policies, processes and infrastructure to cope with suspected and confirmed cases at home, he said.

Last week, the government barred people from 13 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, from entering the country.

Only cargo vessels that have been at the sea for more than 14 days will be allowed to dock in ports. This, too, will be allowed only after the crew has been tested and confirmed disease-free by port health authorities.

The 14-day restriction excludes vessels carrying oil and gas products since there would be minimal human contact, the President said in a statement.

Trains have also been ordered to minimise frequency to limit the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.

Fiscal interventions

Households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to benefit from the 50 billion naira targeted credit facility, the stimulus package announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria early this week on March 23.

The president, too, expressed concern over a wobbly economic situation and called upon the monetary policy authorities for financial intervention to support entrepreneurs and companies.

Meanwhile, the government is looking at fiscal measures to minimise the impact on livelihood of millions and reviewing federal budget, the president said.  

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