Lagos’ largest city, Lagos was abandoned today after Nigeria shut down its economic center in the continent’s last attempt to stop the spread of the corona virus.
Businesses were shut down, markets abandoned and streets empty as the usually chaotic 20 million mega city shuddered on the first full day of a two-week shutdown.
Police in protective equipment manned checkpoints, lorries with non-essential items were rolled back, and young people were spotted playing football on a highway normally obstructed by traffic.
The closure in Nigeria – which also covers the capital Abuja – is one of Africa’s most ambitious social distance efforts, after 135 cases and two deaths were confirmed in the country.
Abandoned: part of the Ikorodu highway in Lagos was completely empty today after the government of Nigeria closed the megacity of 20 million people to stop the spread of the coronavirus
Lonely: One person walks along the side of the Ibadan Highway in Lagos today, which was abandoned by motorists after Africa’s largest city quarantined
Barrier: An officer of the Ogun State Road Safety Command prevents a truck from entering Lagos today as trucks carrying non-essential goods were sent away at checkpoints
Maintaining home command in the overcrowded slums of Lagos will be a daunting challenge, as millions depend on their daily income to survive.
“It’s like putting people in prison,” said taxi driver Mutiu Adisa. “I don’t know how people can survive two weeks without working to make money.”
Officials insist draconian measures are urgently needed to ward off an explosion of infections that could easily overwhelm the weak health system in Africa’s most populous nation.
“To reduce the number of people with coronavirus, we know they need to stop movement,” said 60-year-old engineer Ogun Nubi Victor.
“But there is no money for the citizens, people just sit at home and have nothing to eat.”
In an effort to ease the pain, Lagos authorities have pledged to provide food for around 200,000 of the city’s most needy households.
A pedestrian bridge at a bus stop has been abandoned today as people in Lagos stayed inside to halt an epidemic that experts fear could be particularly harmful in Africa
An empty road and pavement next to a bus stop in Lagos today, where businesses and markets are closed to prevent the coronavirus from bringing misery to the city of 20 million
Police officers are today blocking a highway on the border between Lagos and the neighboring state of Ogun, with cars and trucks at the checkpoint
Across Africa, countries have registered more than 5,300 cases and 170 deaths, according to an overview prepared by AFP.
Tanzania became the last country to register its first fatal accident from the new corona virus on Tuesday.
Figures lagged behind those of other continents, and as of Monday, six of the 54 countries in Africa – South Sudan, Burundi, Sao Tome and Principe, Malawi, Lesotho and Comoros – were still undiscovered.
But experts have repeatedly warned about Africa’s vulnerability, citing the many conflicts, poor sanitation, busy urban slums, and under-equipped hospitals as sources of potential disasters. Even developed countries have overwhelmed their health systems by the crisis.
Dozens of countries across the continent have imposed restrictions, from night curfew to full closure to stop the disease.
The South African police watchdog, which has been locked since last week, said yesterday that it was investigating an officer for allegedly murdering a man who broke the rules.
The regional superpower, which has the largest number of confirmed infections on the continent, will test massive door-to-door screening and infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday.
Police officers today mount a roadblock with a combination of a vehicle and a long stick, preventing a truck from passing the checkpoint in Nigeria’s largest city
This fuel tanker was allowed through a checkpoint, but vehicles carrying non-essential goods were blocked by Nigerian police on Tuesday
A police officer on a motorcycle drives past a bus stop in Lagos, which is closed after Nigeria records 135 infections and two coronavirus deaths
This was the scene yesterday as a line of cars waited to leave the capital Abuja to neighboring states after the closure as announced