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African countries ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Several African countries have lifted the partial lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus, but the ban on gatherings is still in place.

While educational facilities remain closed in most African countries, businesses have been allowed to operate conditionally.

Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives, lockdown in the major states of the West African country of Nigeria will be eased from Monday.

In a national broadcast last week, Buhari said he reviewed the lockdown to allow the nation’s economy to function while the government maintains an aggressive response toward containing the virus.

In Ghana, another West African country, President Nana Akufo-Addo last week emphasized that “lifting these restrictions does not mean we are letting our guard down […] I am demanding even greater adherence to these measures.”

While a nationwide lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of coronavirus that has killed 131 people in the country, it cannot be sustained indefinitely, according to South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said his government took the decision to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions in a bid to revive the country’s economy.

In Cameroon, the prime minister said in a communiqué that the Central African country, which has over 2,000 coronavirus cases has suffered economically since the imposed lockdown in March.

”These measures have created economic and social distortions whose effects are being felt in several areas,” John Ngute said.

Last week, a Malawian High Court barred the government from imposing a coronavirus lockdown which was announced by President Peter Mutharika in mid-April.

‘Be aware of consequences’

“We encourage very much the use of data, so that when a government decides not to lockdown a city, they need to be aware that there will be consequences in terms of the spread of the virus,” World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said at a media briefing last week.

The WHO official said she hoped that these decisions are made taking into account the balance between enabling economies and stopping the spread of a pandemic that can have profound consequences in the countries.

Dr. Lanre Olosunde, head of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in Nigeria, has criticized the president’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions.

”I think it is not the best choice at this time when we see the evidence of active community spread of COVID-19,” he was quoted by the Daily Post as saying.

”I sincerely pray we won’t get to the number of deaths recorded in Italy or that of the United States,” he added.

There are over 42,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent — with more than 1,700 associated deaths, according to WHO.

Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Ivory Coast are the most affected countries by the novel coronavirus in Africa.

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