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Nigerians Mark Christmas Under New Coronavirus Restrictions

Nigerians Mark Christmas Under New Coronavirus Restrictions
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Nigerians Mark Christmas Under New Coronavirus Restrictions

Some Nigerians are finding ways to spread joy during the holiday season while observing precautions against the spread of COVID-19. They are organizing remote caroling and singing from their balconies.

A Christmas carol band playing and singing at the Abuja residence of Oluwabukunmi Odebunmi and her husband on Christmas Eve.

Oluwabukunmi's husband joins the caroling chorus from the balcony, along with some neighbors.

She says the idea of the home caroling is to spread love, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've had a challenging year, but we must move on (laughs) and we just thought that bringing people together to sing some of these songs will gladden their hearts and really put them in the Christmas mood," said Odebunmi.

Earlier this week, Nigerian authorities announced the country is seeing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic after cases spiked and mortality rates increased in December, just days before the Christmas celebrations.

The government immediately reimposed restrictions on large gatherings including churches until March 2021 and urged citizens to observe the rules.

But while many are missing out on fun this season because of the pandemic, remote caroling is helping some people like the Odebunmis and their neighbors get into the spirit of Christmas while keeping safe, says Enimobong Edogho, the band leader at the caroling.

"We have a lot of people observing from their balconies and their houses basically," said Edogho. "So, since we couldn't have the large gathering, we just thought to have something very concise."

Nigeria has recorded more than 80,000 coronavirus cases since a first was detected in late February. Last week, the country recorded its highest number of daily infections, 1,145.

Authorities say the new wave is spreading fast and could be more lethal.

Nigeria is targeting the first quarter of next year for the coronavirus vaccines to be available to citizens, but Kunle Olobayo, a pharmaceutical research expert at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development says it will take longer before vaccines are widely available.

"We may be looking at nothing earlier than 2022 and 2023 here in Nigeria and most parts of Africa," said Olobayo.

While millions may miss holiday parties and family gatherings this season, some, like the Odebunmis, are finding ways to cheer the season and raise spirits.