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Nigeria ups measures as COVID-19 cases rise

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As Nigeria records fifty-six cases of coronavirus, more biting measures to contain the spread are in the offing.

This includes the closure of land borders and routes linking Kano state just as local airlines suspend flights nationwide.

On Thursday, 26 March 2020 Kano State in northern Nigeria with a population of more than nineteen million released a statement ordering the closure of land borders and routes linking the state to other parts of the country with effect from Friday, 27 March 2020.

Abba Anwar, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, said in a statement that movements coming in and out of the state were banned ‎beginning from 12:00 a.m. Friday, 27 March 2020.‎

‎“This includes all kinds of movements through the borders of the state, even those coming to Kano through Domestic Wing of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport will remain at the airport, without getting access into the city.‎

“This decision is hard, but absolutely necessary, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge Kano citizens and all other Nigerians to bear with this difficult situation,” the statement said.‎

According to him, land borders will be shut while the government ensures close monitoring of the situation to keep the people abreast of development. Anwar said that the police, members of the Kano Road Transport Authority (KAROTA), Hisbah and other security agencies were mobilised to enforce compliance with the border closure.

‎Aside from the decision of Kano, local airlines including Max, Peace and Dana airlines have also suspended flights.

The Max Air Transport Company says it will suspend its domestic flight from  Friday, 27 March 2020 until Sunday, 12 April 2020 for the safety of the general public and staff from being infected by COVID-19.

In a statement issued by Max Air Executive Director, Harish Manwani, the company expressed regret regarding the inconvenience the act could cause the masses.

Dana Airlines also said the suspension of all its scheduled flight operations is for fourteen days, effective from midnight of Wednesday, 25 March 2020.

Kingsley Ezenwa, Media and Communications Manager of the airlines, said that the suspension was in response to the recent developments on COVID-19, and the need to support the efforts of the government to stem the further spread of the pandemic.

He said that recently, there has been a huge decline in the passengers’ figure as a result of the COVID-19 and considering the need to avoid piling unnecessary costs at this difficult time.

“We have to take this huge decision in the interest of the industry, staff, customers and our nation. We apologise and regret any inconvenience this decision may cause customers on the affected flights,’’ he said.

Similarly, the Lagos State Council of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has declared its support for any complete lockdown of Nigeria.

Its Chairman,  Gbenga Ekundayo, and Secretary, Abiodun Aladetan, made the pledge in a joint statement saying: “we believe a complete lockdown declaration is needed at this time.’’

“This is because, if we allow this pandemic to get out of hands, it will overwhelm our health facilities and the whole country. This pandemic is real and critical,’’ he said.


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