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As more than 25 million people are placed on a two-week lockdown in parts of Nigeria in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus, poor people in congested neighbourhoods are worried about how they will cope, writes the BBC's Nduka Orjinmo from the commercial capital Lagos.

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A lockdown in Lagos - the commercial hub of Nigeria, as well as the neighbouring state of Ogun and the capital Abuja - came into force on Monday night, following an announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari that the fight against the virus was a "matter of life and death". For Ms Ogunsola it will be difficult to remain indoors. She and her family live in one room in a block of 20, locally called Face-me-I-face-you because of their close proximity to each other. There is no electricity, and when I visited, light was coming in through where a door should have been standing.

Outside there were two toilets and bathrooms shared by all the families living in the 20 rooms. There is no pipe-borne water either in Alapere, and Ms Ogunsola is forced to walk more than 50 metres to a broken public water pipe for her supply. All four of them were lying on the floor as it rained outside.

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A single window was the only source of air into the room and it could get very hot at night. Her husband works at an oil rig in the southern city of Warri and is due to come home in a month.

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But several states - including Rivers, Delta, Kano and Bayelsa - have closed their borders, prohibiting inter-state movement. So if the lockdown is extended, it could be a while before she is reunited with her husband. Though there is a higher mortality rate among the old and those with underlying health conditions, young people are also dying of the virus - and they can transmit it if they do not act responsibly.

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Across an open drain from Ms Ogunsola's residence are more rows of similar apartments. One has an expansive veranda where two old women were sitting and talking. It is not uncommon for urban Nigerian families to live with older relatives, who also double up as nannies. And the concern is that these old people could be at risk if the virus spre.

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If you were to have someone who has the virus there, the chances of spreading it is high," said Dr Oyewale Odubanjo, a public health expert. In Italy, many multi-generational families also live together and this is one reason why it has seen more coronavirus deaths than any other country.

All non-essential travel has been banned in most states and many workers, including civil servants, have been told to work from home. But with a lack of reliable electricity supplies and poor internet connections, it is hard to see how most people will get any work done. There were long queues at supermarkets after President Buhari announced the lockdown, with people rushing to stock up on essentials.

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Many workers are also yet to be paid their wages for March so there are deep concerns about the financial implications of a lockdown. If you do not have what can you do? There are also fears that if things get worse in the urban areas, people would ignore the ban on travel and start moving to rural areas - where they are guaranteed food from family farms but where there is a higher population of vulnerable older people and more limited health services.

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We will survive this," he said. Early March now seems like a long time ago, when the World Health Organization praised Nigeria for its handling of coronavirus after the first case was reported in the country.

Lagos lockdown over coronavirus: 'how will my children survive?'

Officials had swiftly identified, traced and quarantined contacts of the Italian man they referred to as the index case. But now there is growing concern that Nigeria has not done enough to curb the spread of the virus, and its health system is ill-equipped to cope with a major outbreak.

Nigeria has few testing kits, but many asymptomatic government officials and music stars are being tested, raising questions about the fairness of the process. Despite Mr Buhari's promise when he took office to put an end to medical tourism, he and other government officials still go abroad for treatment.


However, this is unlikely to happen if any official gets Covid Lagos and some other states introduced restrictions on large gatherings about a fortnight ago, but many people - including some pastors - are ignoring calls to adhere to social distancing. Meanwhile, back at a crowded bus stop in Alapere, hawkers competed for every inch of available space to sell their wares, ignoring any thought of social distancing.

Most were not concerned about the virus. South Africans prepare for three-week lockdown.

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Ghana mourns mass funeral ban. Africa Today podcasts. No money to stockpile. You may also be interested in:.

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Related Topics. Nigeria Coronavirus pandemic.

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More on this story. Published 26 March Around the BBC.