Nigeria preparing for lockdown

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The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce curbs on movement to shield the country from coronavirus and is leasing equipment for “possible mass burial”, according to an army memo seen by Reuters.

The memo from Army headquarters ouliines plans to protect government food storage from looters as Africa’s most populous nation braces for the illness to spread.

“Following the rise and continuous spread in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria, the Chief of Army Staff deemed it necessary for all to take protective measures to ensure the safety of Nigerian Army personnel and their families,” the memo said.

There are currently 46 confirmed cases in Nigeria and one death. The infection hit the top levels of society, infecting President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff.

With a population of 200 million, 20 million packed in the commercial capitalLagos, many fear the virus could spread quickly without containment.

The memo said the army is suspending leave passes for all personnel and called them to be on “maximum security alert and ready for deployment.”

On Wednesday, Nigeria’s Rivers state governor said he would close borders to human movement in or out of the state to protect it from coronavirus.

The state’s capital city, Port Harcourt, is the gateway to the oil-rich Delta region. Companies such as Nigeria LNG and Royal Dutch Shell have key offices in the city.