Nigeria bans mass gatherings after virus spikes

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LAGOS, NIGERIA - DECEMBER 25: A view from Nigeria's Lagos city as people continuing their daily lives in crowded area amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, on December 25, 2020. Vehicle and human density continues. People did not pay attention to social distancing in the city. (Photo by Adeyinka Yusuf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: A view from Nigeria’s Lagos city as people continuing their daily lives in crowded area amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo by Adeyinka Yusuf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Nigeria on Monday introduced new restrictions, including a ban on mass gatherings, after a spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries.

Although Nigeria has seen a steady decline in new cases of the virus in recent months, the surges in India, Brazil and Turkey have raised fears of a third wave of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation.

Mukhtar Mohammed of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) told reporters in Abuja that, despite existing travel restrictions on Brazil, India and Turkey, there was a need to take urgent action.

This is due, he said, to Nigerians’ non-compliance with the safety and health guidelines in place.

The beefed-up measures are designed “to mitigate the risk of a spike in new cases while the nationwide vaccine rollout continues,” Mohammed added.

He announced the closure of bars, nightclubs, pubs, event centers as well as recreational venues throughout the country.

Also under the new rules, the number of people allowed at weddings and religious gatherings is cut in half, while official engagements, meetings and conferences should be held online.

“Approved gatherings must be held with physical distancing measures and with other non-pharmaceutical measures in place”.

Nigeria had imposed restrictions and lockdowns in March last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But those restrictions were relaxed following a drop in virus cases in the country.

So far, the virus has infected 165,419 and claimed 2,065 lives since the first case in February last year, according to official figures.

A total of 1.7 million vaccine jabs have been administered to health workers and other vulnerable groups in the country.

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