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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on late Monday announced an immediate lockdown of northern Kano state, one of the states hit the hardest by COVID-19, after a surge of unexplained deaths recently.

During a presidential broadcast on Monday night, Buhari said he is gravely concerned about “the unfortunate developments in Kano in recent days,” and has directed the enforcement of a total lockdown for a period of two weeks effective immediately.

Recent local media reports said scores of unexplained deaths have been recorded in the populous northern state over the past week. There are fears that the surge of deaths may be connected with the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

Kano, which recorded its index case on April 11, confirmed 77 COVID-19 cases as of Monday, ranking third, following Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the number of confirmed cases, according to official data.

“Although an in-depth investigation is still ongoing, we have decided to deploy additional federal government manpower, material and technical resources to strengthen and support the state government’s efforts,” said Buhari.

Buhari has announced a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in the FCT and the states of Lagos and Ogun effective from May 4, so as to allow “the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”

However, he stressed that the easing measures will not apply to Kano, as in the state and indeed many other states that are recording new COVID-19 cases, preliminary findings show these cases are mostly from interstate travel and emerging community transmission.

According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, a total of 1,337 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Nigeria as of Monday.

Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje tweeted Monday that autopsies are being carried out and investigations into the reported unexplained deaths are ongoing. Enditem

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