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Nigeria plans $1.2bn coronavirus fund to curtail spread

The country has reported 209 cases of coronavirus and four deaths.
A Nigerian army health official performs a temperature check on a visitor to the entrance of the Nigerian Army Hospital in the Yaba area of Lagos, Nigeria, on February 28. Image: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Nigeria plans to set up a 500 billion-naira ($1.2 billion) coronavirus intervention fund after becoming the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to report infections.

“Our general view is that this crisis intervention fund is to be utilised to upgrade health care facilities as earlier identified,” Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed was quoted as saying in a statement from Nigeria’s Senate after talks with senior lawmakers to discuss the funding.

“The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve health care facilities not only in the states but to provide intervention to the states.”

Africa’s top oil-producing nation last week restricted all movement of people and ordered businesses and offices closed in Lagos and Abuja, the two main cities, for an initial two weeks. Nigeria has reported 209 cases of the novel coronavirus and four deaths, according to the country’s centre for disease control.

Ahmed met Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila on Saturday to seek approval for the fund, which would draw on resources from several special government accounts.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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