Nigeria’s federal government has announced plans to gradually open up the country over a six-week period after instituting a strict lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Among the numerous provisions that are part of the reopening, commercial banks will only operate for six hours per day, inter-state travel is forbidden except for essential services, a curfew will be enforced between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. and any arrivals in Nigeria will be required to undergo a supervised fourteen-day quarantine.
This strategy is indicative of the push-and-pull between the Nigerian government’s desire to ensure public safety and the needs of its citizens, many of whom cannot survive an extended lockdown due to poverty. On Monday, April 27, the same day the reopening policy was announced, dozens of Nigerian construction workers went on strike to protest against lockdown measures in Lagos.
The greatest concern is the risk of a second wave of infections arising from relaxed measures.
Lockdown Tensions Mount Everywhere
Similar frustrations have been expressed in other parts of Africa, forcing governments to implement their own versions of reopening. The greatest concern emerging from this strategy is the risk of a second wave of infections arising from relaxed measures, which would quickly overwhelm fragile healthcare systems across sub-Saharan Africa and likely undercut any economic gains made from easing restrictions.