Nigeria's Kano lifts virus lockdown

03 July 2020 - 14:42 By AFP
An official takes a driver's temperature near Abuja, Nigeria. File photo
An official takes a driver's temperature near Abuja, Nigeria. File photo

Authorities in northern Nigeria's biggest city Kano have lifted a three-month lockdown imposed to contain a coronavirus outbreak linked to hundreds of deaths.

State governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje announced the lifting of the curfew in a broadcast, insisting the key trading hub had seen a sharp drop in infections.

"We can beat our chest and say we are winning the case and there is no longer any need for the lockdown," Ganduje said late Thursday.

"There will be free movement for all."

Kano was put under lockdown in April after medics and cemetery workers reported a spike in "unexplained" deaths.

A team of health experts from the central government found that up to 600 fatalities may have been linked to the virus, but local officials put the figure at under half that number.

The research was based on interviews with relatives of the deceased and medics but the figures were never added to the official tally as no tests were conducted.

The lockdown in Kano was later eased to only three days in a week after a drop in deaths and infection.

Ganduje in his broadcast ordered senior government employees to resume work and said the state would enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks.

Social distancing and hygiene measures have remained largely lax in the city despite the authorities setting up a dozen mobile courts to ensure compliance.

Kano's relaxation of restrictions comes as the central government has rolled back virus measures around the country despite mounting infections.

Africa's largest nation has reported 27,110 officially confirmed cases and 616 deaths, but has been struggling to provide adequate testing capacity.