The CBN has announced the resumption of dollar sales to commercial banks in view of the gradual easing of the coronavirus lockdown. The bank said Wednesday that it would sell $100 million per week to help individuals with dollar expenses abroad such as payment for foreign schools fees and small businesses wishing to make essential imports needed to revamp economic activities. President Muhammadu Buhari had locked down Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states last month to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, prompting the monetary regulator to run greatly reduced operations with currency traders working from home. The president said on Monday that lockdowns in these states would gradually ease from May 4. Dollar demand has been swelling and piling up pressure on the naira, traders said as importers with past due obligations are scrambling for hard currency while providers of foreign exchange such as offshore investors have exited. The naira has been hitting new lows on the over-the-counter spot and black markets after the central bank last month devalued the currency and suspended dollar sales to retail currency traders due to COVID-19 restrictions. On Tuesday, the currency hit a new low of 460 per dollar on the black market on Tuesday as dollar scarcity worsened. So far, Nigeria has reported 1,532 cases of the coronavirus and 44 deaths.

A new survey shows that 41.3 percent of Kano residents who died over the past few weeks had a fever, one of the main symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease. According to The Cable, 91 percent of these cases were male. The state government had admitted the ‘strange deaths’ and its severity on Sunday but blamed malaria and other terminal conditions but not COVID -19. The contamination and closure of the molecular laboratory testing for COVID-19 in the state exacerbated the situation, fueling speculations linking the deaths to a pandemic that has affected more than 1,500 Nigerians. According to the state’s commissioner for health, Muhammad Garba, verbal autopsy – a method of determining the cause of death via information gathered from people who knew the medical history of the deceased – would be used to investigate the situation. A community-based survey on reported increased mortality in Kano state, carried out by Yusuf Yau Gambo, a lecturer at the Department of Mathematics at the Yusuf Maitama Sule University in Kano, based on a very small sample size of 260 households from 17 local government areas, showed that half of the respondents (130 families) each witnessed five deaths in their vicinity in the two-week period before the report. About 67 percent of the respondents said the strange deaths started from 13 April and have continued up until when the survey concluded on April 25. The World Health Organization approves verbal autopsy as a vital tool in places where undocumented deaths are rife — but has standards for conducting such. Kano currently has 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases and President Buhari in his latest national address imposed a two-week lockdown on the state.

Nigeria revised down its crude oil export programmes for May and June to align themselves with a global production cut deal led by OPEC, a Reuters examination of loading programmes showed. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, OPEC +, agreed to cut their combined output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), or 23% each in May and June, from an agreed baseline. The deal was agreed earlier this month to support prices as demand has plunged by as much as a third due to global lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus/ Nigeria’s June loading programmes was severely delayed due to wrangling between producers and state firm NNPC on how cuts should be implemented. The schedules, issued by the operators, have been slowly trickling out. Those grades run by Exxon Mobil were the first to emerge showing some steep cuts. Still missing are the schedules for key grades sent out by Royal Dutch Shell that has the largest footprint in the country. Exxon operates one of Nigeria’s key grades, Qua Iboe, which has seen planned exports slashed in June to 95,000 bpd compared with an original May programme of 215,000 bpd. In addition, two May cargoes of Qua Iboe have been deferred to June. Chevron’s Agbami grade will load fewer cargoes in June at four cargoes versus five cargoes in the previous two months. One May cargo has been deferred to June. Schedules for Total’s Nigerian Egina and Amenam grades also showed declines.

Vaccinations for up to 12 million children to prevent the spread of polio in Africa will be delayed, in a major redeployment of polio eradication resources to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Polio prevention campaigns, which are vital to avert outbreaks, will be suspended until at least the second half of 2020, said Dr Pascal Mkanda, the head of polio for World Health Organization Africa. The decision will inevitably lead to a rise in polio cases.“We took the difficult decision to suspend these plans and considered it would have a significant impact on preventing the spread of new outbreaks,” he said. “New outbreaks of polio will appear because we will not be able to administer the vaccines in time.” The effect of the lack of vaccinations has already begun to emerge. On Saturday, Niger reported two new polio cases, affecting children in the capital, Niamey, and the Tillabéri region, according to the WHO. The cases are the first in the West African country since an outbreak which lasted two years was eradicated last December. The country is one of 15 in Africa experiencing “vaccine-derived poliovirus outbreaks”, with cases spreading among parts of the populations yet to receive a vaccination. Polio, a highly infectious disease that spreads through contaminated water or food, often affects children under five, with about one in 200 infections leading to paralysis. Of those paralysed, up to 10% die because of crippled breathing muscles. More than 95% of populations need to be immunised for polio to fully be eradicated. The increase and success of preventive vaccination campaigns around the world – particularly in Africa and Asia, where the disease has been a scourge – had given international health authorities hope that polio could be eradicated. Yet the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly set back efforts. The total number of Covid-19 infections in Africa is rapidly increasing – more than doubling in the last two weeks to 32,000 – with a similar increase in the number of deaths, to 1,400.