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Lockdown begins: Five things to start your day

Day 1 of Lockdown

Lagos, Ogun and Abuja yesterday as at 11pm commenced a total lockdown that would last two weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Nigeria confirmed 20 new cases of coronavirus on Monday after 13 cases were reported in Lagos, 4 in FCT, 2 in Kaduna and 1 in Oyo State, the NCDC tweeted late evening.

The lockdown according to the Presidency, would allow for contact tracing, now at 6,000, and at the same time slow the spread of the disease by limiting physical interaction of the public.

Only essential businesses will be allowed to operate in affected states for next two weeks.

Notably, price of food in those states have soared with staple food like garri and rice selling at least 100 percent  higher.

As at 09:00 pm 30th March there are 131 confirmed cases of COVID19 reported in Nigeria with 2 deaths.

Planned Electricity hike to be postponed, sources say

The planned increase in electricity tariff from April 1 will be delayed by at least three months due to the impact of the novel coronavirus that has disrupted business activities in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had planned a hike of 30 percent on the average from tomorrow, but BusinessDay learnt the regulator today will announced a new tariff order delay.

Such an order would follow in the pattern of considerations by the federal government and lawmakers at national and sub-national levels to ease economic burden on Nigerians due to the disruption to their income or business revenue that might affect ability to honour obligations.

NSE to continue remote trading despite Lagos lockdown

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will continue trading remote trading although its operations during the 14-day lockdown in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state.

The Lagos bourse obtained permission from the president to allow skeletal operations of financial system and money markets after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a full lockdown in key states affected by the COVID-19 pandemic including Lagos, the country’s commercial capital.

While many businesses are expected to close, those providing essential services in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, food etc are exempted although their operations would have to be adjusted to be in line with measures to curb COVID-19.

The exclusion of financial system and money markets participants also mean Nigerians can still perform online transactions and use ATMs whilst observing restrictions.

Read also: Fate of 36m unbanked Nigerians in limbo amid coronavirus lockdown

Russia and US to meet over crude oil at 18-month low

Crude oil crash to the lowest price since 2002 will see top energy officials of Russia and the United States meet to discuss ways to support the market, according to the Kremlin.

On Monday benchmark Brent futures fell as low as $21.65 per barrel while WTI plunged to $19 levels.

Brent later in the day regained some lost grounds to $23.03, its lowest since November 2002.

The drop in crude oil price is hitting oil producers hard making a big dent in budget expenditure and income plans. Nigeria has been forced to revise key oil price budget benchmark to $30 but current market realities do not support such forecast.

The unprecedented plunge in oil price is due to severe drop in demand as businesses across the world grind to a halt over COVID-19. Also, a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia occasioned by disagreements on production cuts deepened the market rout.

Here’s NCDC’s take on who is top priority for COVID-19 test amid kits shortage

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has reviewed and released new national case definitions for Covid-19 (Coronavirus), explaining that the reagents to test for the virus are currently inadequate in the country and scarce globally.

Some Nigerians had at the weekend expressed their frustration that they could not get tested when they visited Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC) Laboratory in Abuja, despite fitting into the case definition of suspected Coronavirus case.

Read also: Coronavirus: NIWA makes N10m donation to NCDC, Lagos State

Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC, who announced  the release of a new case definition Monday on national television, said the centre will be much more stricter and will test only those who need to be tested.

Those who can be tested now are only; returning travellers with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, contacts of confirmed cases with these symptoms and those with fever & respiratory symptoms in areas of moderate-high prevalence, NCDC said in its Twitter handle Monday.

NCDC also clarified that there is no validated rapid diagnostic test kit for Coronavirus.

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health had earlier informed that government will carry out targeted tests. He said reagents are currently inadequate in the country, therefore, NCDC will not carry out blank testing so no need for Nigerians to troop to Laboratories seeking to be tested.

“Not all Nigerians are at risk, except those in close contact with people who have travelled or from high burden countries,” he said.

Ehanire said the new measure is economical, more focused and will have a higher yield rather than “wasting resources and reagents.”

The minister noted that president Muhammadu Buhari’s lockdown order is timely as it will allow government carryout an intensive contact tracing. Ehanire  noted that Lagos is currently tracing about 5,000 contacts.

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