ABUJA – Nigeria’s two main cities — Abuja and Lagos — are preparing to go on lockdown to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The arrival of coronavirus testing kits donated by a Chinese billionaire is expected to give officials a more accurate reading of coronavirus infections in Africa’s most populous nation. But there are also concerns on how the public could react to a jump in infection numbers and a lockdown.
The lockdown announcement was made during President Muhammadu Buhari’s national broadcast.
Normal activities in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun near Lagos are expected to shut down for 14 days starting late Monday night.
“Some of these measures will surely cause major inconveniences to many citizens. But these are sacrifices we should all be willing and ready to make for the greater good of our country,” said Buhari.
Hours after the announcement, thousands of citizens stormed shopping malls in Abuja in what appears to be panic-buying.
Abuja residents like Daniel Yerimah said the shutdown is a necessary move to control the coronavirus from spreading.
“Personally I think it’s long overdue and I’m not really satisfied with the way the government has been handling the whole situation. But with the president coming out to announce a lockdown, I think it’s a beautiful decision and I hope that this will help us control the situation on ground,” he said.
However, he has some concerns.
“I don’t believe many citizens can remain indoors for two weeks. It’s not possible because majority of the citizens live below the poverty line. Even one week, it’s not possible for them to remain indoors one week without any income,” said Yerimah.
Since new testing kits donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma arrived in Nigeria last week, more testing has been carried out and more cases discovered.
Chinwe Ochu is the head of prevention programs at NCDC. He said the kits are essential to containing the virus.
“Our objective is to stop the transmission, and to do this, we want to have early detection of cases, early reporting, early cases investigations, isolation and treatment, early contact tracing and early social distancing,” said Ochu.
With more than a hundred confirmed cases of the virus in Nigeria so far, authorities are working hard and say they’re ready to impose even more drastic measures if need be, in order to control the spread.