MAIDUGURI, Nigeria 

Nigeria’s president announced late Monday that a more than four-week lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus would be gradually eased beginning May 4.   

In a national broadcast, Muhammadu Buhari said he reviewed the lockdown to allow the nation’s economy to function while the government maintains an aggressive response toward containing the virus. 

“I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, 4th May, 2020,” he said. 

He said the lockdown has taken a heavy toll on the economy and the government wants factories, markets, trade and transport to function while people adhere to COVID-19 measures. 

However, he said northwest Kano State will remain under lockdown due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. He said he has ordered the deployment of additional health personnel, equipment and resources to contain community spread in the state.  

The president also announced a new hazard allowance for health workers on the front lines of COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment and the procurement of insurance for 5,000 frontline medical personnel while lauding their sacrifices. 

Buhari also apologized for the human rights abuses committed by some security personnel during the lockdown. He promised that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.  

The president first announced total a lockdown in major cities for 14 days on March 29 and extended it on April 14 for another 14 days. 

Nigeria has 1,273 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 40 deaths, according to an update Monday by the National Centre for Disease Control. The country reported its first case on Feb. 27.

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