Nigerians shake off coronavirus lockdown boredom with group exercise


ABUJA (Reuters) – The bored and the brave have taken over the six-lane highways of Nigeria’s capital, now on coronavirus lockdown.

Vehicles in Abuja are mostly gone. In their place: hundreds of people doing group workouts with little concern for a disease that has so far killed 10 and infected 300 in Nigeria.

“Since the lockdown, we are just at home doing nothing, no work, no food, nothing, nothing, so we decided to come and exercise our body instead of us sitting at home and just getting fat,” said Akinyemi Busayo, a trader, who was doing aerobics and other exercises in a group.

Behind Busayo, dozens of people lined a footbridge spanning one of Abuja’s massive highways, doing sit-ups as a stream of runners jogged between them.

The government has ordered people to remain indoors and isolate themselves unless they need essentials such as food, water or medical services.

But enforcement has varied from the draconian – with security agents beating and arresting even health workers they found outside – to non-existent, as with the sportswear-clad crowds in Abuja.

“For me I believe it is not yet here in this my vicinity,” said Agboola Sabinat, a student, referring to the novel coronavirus.

“Everyone is scared, like my mom she is scared, she is like I should not go out for this work-out, that they said everybody should be at home, that we should just keep cool and stay at home, but I can’t,” Sabinat said.

Reporting by Abraham Achirga in Abuja; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Giles Elgood