Coronavirus: Moscow and Lagos in lockdown as countries tighten restrictions

Jon Henley in Paris
Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/Tass

Europe’s largest capital and Africa’s most populous city have gone into lockdown as countries across the globe including the US prolonged and tightened already strict confinement orders in an effort to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

Moscow imposed strict isolation measures on Monday after many residents ignored official requests to stay indoors, confining citizens to their homes unless for a medical emergency, to travel to essential jobs, shop for food or medicines or walk their dogs.

At the request of the prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, regional authorities across Russia started preparing similar orders as the country began a “non-working” week declared by the president, Vladimir Putin.

“I ask you to take these forced but absolutely necessary measures ... very seriously and completely responsibly,” Putin said. Facial recognition cameras will police the measures in the capital, which has reported more than 1,000 confirmed cases.

What is Covid-19?


It is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals.


What are the symptoms this coronavirus causes?


The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

In the UK, the National Heath Service has defined the symptoms as:

  • a high temperature - you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough - this means you've started coughing repeatedly


Should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?


Medical advice varies around the world - with many countries imposing travel bans and lockdowns to try and prevent the spread of the virus. In many place people are being told to stay at home rather than visit a doctor of hospital in person. Check with your local authorities.

In the UK, NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.


How many people have been affected?


China’s national health commission confirmed human-to-human transmission in January. As of 30 March, more than 720,000 people have been infected in more than 150 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

There have been over 34,000 deaths globally. Just over 3,200 of those deaths have occurred in mainland China. Italy has been worst affected, with over 10,000 fatalities, and there have been over 6,800 deaths in Spain. The US now has more confirmed cases than any other country. Many of those who have died had underlying health conditions, which the coronavirus complicated.

More than 150,000 people are recorded as having recovered from the coronavirus.


On the other side of the world in Nigeria, the 21 million inhabitants of Lagos, which has recorded one death from Covid-19, prepared to enter a two-week lockdown on Monday night. Experts have warned the measure could prove almost impossible to enforce in a city where millions live in poverty and rely on daily earnings to survive.

In the US, where Donald Trump on Sunday extended emergency physical distancing restrictions until 30 April, Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said on Monday that if the country did things “almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities”.

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The number of confirmed cases in the US has passed 140,000 with more than 2,500 deaths. A 1,000-berth US navy hospital ship with 12 operating rooms, the USNS Comfort, pulled into a cruise ship terminal in New York on Monday, while a 68-bed field hospital designed as a respiratory care unit has been put up in Central Park.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 740,000 people and killed more than 35,000. Nearly 3.5 billion people around the world are living in voluntary or mandatory confinement.

Related: Coronavirus mapped: which countries have the most cases and deaths?

Of Europe’s worst-affected countries, Spain, which on Monday joined the US and Italy in surpassing the number of cases in China, where the virus originated, began its first day of even more restrictive lockdown after the government banned all bar essential workers from leaving their homes.

The Spanish health ministry said 812 people had died from the virus between Sunday and Monday, a slight fall on the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 7,340 with 85,195 confirmed cases.

In Italy, which accounts for a third of all global deaths from Covid-19, the government warned citizens should be ready for a lengthy confinement that would only be lifted gradually. “We are in a very long battle,” the government medical adviser, Luca Richeldi, said on Monday. “Through our behaviour, we save lives.”

The regional affairs minister, Francesco Boccia, said all talk of reopening was inappropriate and irresponsible. “The measures expiring on 3 April will inevitably be extended,” Boccia said. “We all want to go back to normal. But we will have to do it by turning on one switch at a time.”

Italy’s death toll also rose by 812 to 11,591, reversing two days of declines in the daily rate, but the number of new cases increased by just 2% to 101,739, the lowest since 17 March.

The strains on Italian society imposed by the country’s near-total lockdown, however, are starting to show: in Sicily, armed police began guarding entrances to supermarkets after local media reported looting by people who could no longer afford food.

People walk along a closed market during lockdown in Lagos. Photograph: Temilade Adelaja/Reuters

In other developments:

  • France’s death toll of 418 in the past 24 hours was the highest so far, bringing its tally to 3,024 with 44,550 confirmed cases.

  • Hungary’s parliament passed a state of emergency without a time limit that allows the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to rule by decree.

  • Austria is to hand facial masks to shoppers before they enter supermarkets.

  • Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, went into self-isolation after coming into contact with infected people.

  • Iran’s official death toll reached 2,757, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases.

  • New York state’s death toll from coronavirus climbed above 1,000, less than a month after the disease was first detected in the state.

  • Tokyo has recorded its biggest daily increase in cases and Japan will expand its entry ban to include citizens travelling from the US, China, South Korea and most of Europe.

  • Vietnam’s prime minister has asked major cities to prepare for lockdowns.

  • South Korea is to provide emergency cash payments to many families.

  • The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will open on 23 July next year.

  • The UN called for a $2.5tn aid package to help developing countries, including debt cancellation and a health recovery “Marshal Plan”.

In China, meanwhile, where the pandemic originated, authorities on Monday reported 31 new confirmed coronavirus cases, all bar one of them imported, the fourth consecutive daily fall.

The city of Wuhan, at the centre of the outbreak, reported no new cases for a sixth day. Businesses were reopening and residents set about resuming a more normal life after a lockdown that has lasted almost two months.

In a further indication of the devastating economic impact of the pandemic, the budget airline EasyJet said on Monday it had grounded its entire fleet of aircraft for at least two months in response to the destruction of demand for air travel.