In Nigeria, some businesses have reopened on the first working day after the easing of a lockdown imposed on key urban areas in a bid to restart Africa’s largest economy.
But the main doctors’ association described the move as “very premature”.
In the commercial hub, Lagos, traffic jams were absent, indicating that many were remaining indoors.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari said the measures had imposed “a very heavy economic cost”.
The lockdown began five weeks ago to contain the spread of coronavirus.
As many in the big cities live a hand-to-mouth existence, the restrictions led to fears that it could leave people hungry as it cut off their means to earn money.
Nigeria is one of several African countries beginning to loosen restrictions. Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia have also relaxed their coronavirus lockdowns.
What could happen to the economy?
The country’s economy is also predicted to suffer because of a collapse in the oil price.
Standard Chartered Bank has forecast that in light of the impact of coronavirus Nigeria’s economy will only grow by 0.2% this year, it previously forecasted 2.5% growth.
In Lagos, as well as the absence of the city’s notorious traffic jams, there are also fewer of the city’s famous yellow public buses plying their routes.
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The bus stops, which are normally bustling with commuters, had a few stranded passengers, who then tried to cram on to any vehicles that stopped.
The lockdown, imposed on 30 March in Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state and the capital, Abuja, meant that many businesses were closed as people were required to stay indoors, except for essential journeys. Markets were allowed to stay open for limited hours.
Restrictions, which were imposed later, have also been eased in Kano state in the north, where an investigation is under way into reports of mass deaths.
Supermarkets and some fruit and vegetable markets are allowed to open from 10:00 to 16:00 on Mondays and Thursdays to allow people to buy food and other basic necessities, according to a government statement.
Why are people concerned about the easing?
But some have expressed concerns that the government’s decision to ease restrictions has been premature as the number of new coronavirus cases does not appear to be tailing off.
“Only the living can enjoy their money,” said Joy Ugochukwu who works with an auditing firm in Lagos’ Victoria Island business district.
She said she was delaying her return to work despite a message from her employer asking her to resume on Monday.
“The virus is going to increase now everyone is rushing out,” she said.
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