ABUJA, Nigeria, Apr 13 – President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but the government has still not said whether it will extend a two-week confinement order on three states that ends Monday.
Residents in Lagos, Ogun and the capital Abuja have been confined to their homes, only allowed to leave for shopping trips, since March 31 in a measure to halt virus infections.
On Saturday Buhari in a statement urged Nigerians to stay at home and to wash their hands to help save lives, but there was no indication whether the official confinement period would be extended past Monday.
“I don’t have any information on that,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told AFP on Sunday.
“The doctors and scientists are the ones who will advise. It is not a political decision, it is a medical and scientific decision.”
Nigeria, with nearly 200 million inhabitants, is the most populous country in Africa, and has the world’s largest number of people living below the extreme poverty line.
Confinement measures are extremely difficult for the majority of the population who depend on the informal economy to survive.
On Twitter, hundreds of Nigerians have urged the presidency as well as the Lagos state government to lift the restrictions so they can work and feed their families.
Nigeria had 318 reported cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with around 5,000 tests carried out, and has recorded 10 deaths.
Coronavirus has spread to 52 African countries, though its steady rise in confirmed cases lags behind the global curve for infections and deaths.
The World Health Organization has warned Africa faces a sharp evolution of pandemic and the continent appears poorly equipt to manage a major health crisis.