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COVID-19: South Africa, US, India, others extend lock down as infection continues to mount

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AS the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage countries of the world, a number of world leaders are already extending lock down imposed in their countries to contain the spread of the disease.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President announced a two-week extension of the lock down in the country.

“There is sufficient evidence to show the lock down is indeed working,” with the rate of new infections slowing, Ramaphosa said Thursday in a televised address. “Unless we take these difficult measures now, unless we hold this course a little longer, the coronavirus pandemic will engulf, and ultimately consume, our country.”

The government initially imposed a 21-day lockdown on March 27, which is being enforced by the police and military and only allows people to leave their homes to buy food, collect welfare grants and seek medical care — unless they provide essential services.

South Africa has confirmed 1,934 Covid-19 infections —the most in Africa—since the first case was detected on March 5. There were 89 new infections reported on Thursday, with cases confirmed in all nine provinces.

“The struggle against the coronavirus is far from over,” Ramaphosa said. “If we end the lock down too soon and too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable upsurge in the disease.”

Rwanda has also extended a strict lock down imposed to help curb the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The measure was announced on March 21.

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The lock down was to end this weekend but was extended by the cabinet on Wednesday after the number of confirmed cases climbed from 17 to 82 in two weeks, the BBC said.

Italy and Spain are preparing for several more weeks under lock down as volatile coronavirus infection rates prevent Europe’s governments from easing curbs on public life.

Giuseppe Conte, Italian Prime Minister, whose country has reported the most virus-linked deaths worldwide, is leaning toward an extension to early May, though a small number of businesses may be allowed to reopen. Spain prolonged a state of emergency until April 25 while the UK is also likely to extend restrictions.

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, on Thursday also extended the lock down in 16 states to April 19 as the initial lock down was to be lifted this weekend.

In India,  it appears the government is set to extend its 21-day lock down for all 1.3 billion citizens for two more weeks, carrying it to the end of April.

During a meeting with top officials, the Prime Minister Modi, said the lock down had helped blunt the outbreak but that “constant vigilance is paramount,” according to a statement from his office.

Belgium went on lock down on March 17, following the government’s orders to limit contact. But on March 22, the lock down was extended to April 19; residents are only allowed essential visits to the supermarkets, pharmacies and banks in cases of emergency.

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While on Friday, Turkey ordered a two-day curfew extension for 31 provinces, Denmark may reopen kindergartens and schools starting next week if cases of the infection drops.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered the extension of curfew until further notice because of the spread of the coronavirus, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi king previously ordered a curfew that took effect on March 23, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time for 21 days, according to Reuters, which cited state media. Saudi Arabia placed capital city Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour curfew and locked down much of the population.

The United States, now under a major disaster declaration for the coronavirus pandemic after its death toll reached the highest in the world on Saturday with over 20,000 death having half of the fatalities in New York alone.

All 50 states as well as the U.S. Virgin islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico have received a federal disaster declaration.

President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Wyoming on Saturday, which comes 22 days after the first disaster declaration in New York, the epicentre of the virus.

Nigeria on March 30 implemented a sweeping lock down for three major states, Lagos, Ogun and Abuja in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus in the country.

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Buhari may also extend Nigeria’s lock down

There are strong indications that President, Muhammadu Buhari may extend the lock down order in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),Abuja as at the last tally released on Saturday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Covid-19 has infected 318.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, spoke at Friday’s edition of the committee’s daily media briefing where he said the president reserves the right to extend the lock down.

“The decision on whether to extend the lock down or not is exclusively the decision or responsibility of the President. Ours (the PTF) is to provide him with first-hand information that would inform that decision. Therefore, I cannot speculate on that now,” Boss said.

“However, looking at what is happening in other climes, you would be able to deduce what might likely happen, but I am not in a position to speculate on that,” he added.

However, 70 people have been discharged while 10 deaths have been recorded so far.

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