Several African Countries Will Begin Easing Restrictions of COVID-19 Lockdowns
Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana are all set to relax certain aspects of their national lockdowns.
The total number of coronavirus cases on the African continent now stands at close to 35 000 with at least 1 500 reported deaths, according to BBC's Coronavirus in Africa tracker. Numerous African countries have gone on national lockdowns and enforced strict curfews and social distancing measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. After several weeks, however, a number of these African countries now plan to ease the lockdown restrictions.
South Africa is currently on the second-last day of its 35-day national lockdown. What began as a 21-day lockdown was subsequently extended by another 14 days as the number of coronavirus cases continued to climb. The country has 4996 confirmed cases and 93 reported deaths. Approximately 2073 people have since recovered after testing positive for the coronavirus.
However, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced that the country would be exiting the highest level of the lockdown (level 5) and entering level 4 as of this coming Friday. A number of industries will be phased back while schools are set to reopen and domestic air travel now permissible. Read more about level-4 restrictions here.
Similar to South Africa, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced recently that his government would also be easing lockdown measures in a number of states including Lagos, Abuja and Ogun. According to Aljazeera, there will be a mandatory wearing of masks, a ban on "non-essential" travel and a curfew. Speaking about the decision to ease restrictions, President Buhari said that, "The federal and state governments have jointly and collaboratively worked hard on how to balance the need to protect health while also preserving livelihoods, leveraging global best practices while keeping in mind our peculiar circumstances."
Currently, Nigeria has 1532 confirmed coronavirus cases and 44 reported deaths. There have been 255 recoveries among those who have tested positive.
Ghana has recently announced that domestic flights are set to resume this weekend. According to the Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, Kotoka airport in Accra as well as several other airports will be disinfected in preparation. Social distancing will reportedly be practised among passengers and the use of hand sanitiser and masks ensured by airlines.
The West African country has 1671 confirmed coronavirus cases with 16 deaths and 188 recoveries thus far.
Lastly, Zimbabwe has already eased some of the restrictions of its nationwide lockdown. Two weeks after the lockdown began, Zimbabweans were permitted to access money-transfer companies in order to obtain funds sent from family members living in the diaspora. Faced with a spiralling economy, hyper-inflation and food shortages, concerns around mass hunger and starvation are beginning to supersede those of the coronavirus outbreak itself.
Zimbabwe currently has 32 confirmed cases with 4 reported deaths and 5 recoveries. However, an overburdened health system and lack of resources are fuelling fears of gross underreporting among those who have the coronavirus.
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