March 25, 2020 / 2:36 PM / 3 days ago

Nigerian Army prepares for coronavirus lockdown, mass burials

ABUJA, March 25 (Reuters) - The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce curbs on movement to try 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 also outlines plans to protect government food storage from looters as Africa’s most populous nation braces for the illness to spread further in the country.

“Following the rise and continuous spread in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria, the (Chief of Army Staff) has 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, but the infection has hit the top levels of society, infecting President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff.

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

The memo said the Army is suspending all leave passes for all personnel and called for them to be on “maximum security alert and be ready for deployment.” (Reporting By Paul Carsten, Writing by Libby George, Editing by William Maclean)

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