LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigerian state governors have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the compulsory use of face masks in public as confirmed coronavirus cases rise, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Saturday.
The 36 governors believe Buhari’s approval is needed to ensure a uniform and coordinated policy at federal and state levels to tackle the virus, the letter from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said.
The presidency declined to comment on whether Buhari had received the letter or would act on the advice.
Two presidency sources said the request had taken the form of a suggestion to the president’s task force on COVID-19. They said the task force would brief him on the suggestion on Sunday.
Nigeria reported 114 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing its total to 1,095, with 32 deaths. A total of 28 states have so far reported cases, and more than half are in the commercial hub, Lagos.
With 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Some 20 million reside in Lagos.
The governors want Buhari’s next set of coronavirus measures to incorporate a lockdown on flights and on interstate movement, restrictions on large gatherings and overnight curfews, as well as making the use of face masks in public compulsory.
The movement of food, beverages, medical and pharmaceuticals, petroleum supplies and agricultural products should be exempt, said the governors, who on Thursday agreed to ban interstate movement for two weeks.
Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the capital Abuja, are already under federally imposed lockdowns, while various states have instigated their own containment measures.
(Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Holmes)