Nigeria has announced that the completion of a 150km major railway project linking Lagos to Ibadan has been delayed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak as workers from China had not returned to the country.

The railway line is being developed by the state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, reported South China Morning Post.

Nigeria’s Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said: “Most of the Chinese workers who went on their New Year holiday have not yet returned due to the coronavirus and this has delayed the work.”

Expected to be completed in May, the $1.5bn project has been repeatedly facing delays since it was first agreed in 2012.

China has since invested billions of dollars in constructing infrastructure across Africa, building its influence in the region.

Nigeria has currently reported only one case in an Italian man who travelled from Milan to Lagos.

Despite its strong business connections with China, sub-Saharan Africa has been lightly impacted by the coronavirus. The number of countries with coronavirus reached 100 on 9 March, in less than three months of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China in December 2019.

More than a quarter (26.5%) of the confirmed global Covid-19 cases are currently outside China.

Furthermore, the daily number of cases reported outside China are currently higher than those reported in the country, signifying the global spread and possible worsening of the epidemic in the near future.