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Nigeria to begin ‘phased and gradual’ easing of lockdowns in Lagos, Abuja

LAGOS, April 27 (Reuters) - Nigeria will begin a "phased and gradual" easing of more than four weeks of lockdowns on May 4, President Muhammadu Buhari said in an address on Monday.

Lagos and Ogun states and the federal capital territory of Abuja entered lockdowns to tame the spread of the new coronavirus on March 30.

Confirmed cases of the new virus have roughly quadrupled since a lockdown extension was announced on April 13, to 1,273 cases and 40 deaths, most concentrated in Lagos and Abuja.

But Buhari said the lockdowns had come at a “very heavy economic cost,” stripping many citizens of their livelihoods.

“No country can afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines,” Buhari said.

He also announced that face masks are now mandatory in public places, and that the federal government will ban non-essential travel between Nigeria’s 36 states, both measures the governors’ forum had requested. (Reporting By Libby George Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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