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NASS Reacts to UK Travel Ban

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The United Kingdom on Saturday, 4th December 2021, included Nigeria on its red list for international travel, alongside several African countries following the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. This means that only UK and Irish citizens are allowed to enter the UK from those countries. However, they will be mandated to self-isolate for a period of 10 days in a government approved hotel and bear the cost, which amounts to £2,200. According to the UK government, a vast majority of Omicron variant cases in the UK have been linked to travel from South Africa and Nigeria. However, Nigeria had only reported three cases of the variant at the time.

The Senate in its response to the decision of the UK government to include Nigeria to its red list category following the outbreak of the Omicron Variant of the COVID-19 disease, resolved to:

  • Condemn the actions of the UK government for its inclusion of Nigeria to the list without justification.
  • Urge the Federal Government to engage with the British government with a view to reverse its decision.
  • Urge the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the list due to its bilateral relationship with Nigeria and the effect of its decision on Nigerian citizens.
  • Call on the Federal Government to intensify its effort in the enforcement of COVID-19 Protocols to contain all variants.

The UK government’s redisiting of Nigeria and a few other countries has not gone without criticism from around the world. From within the UK, its former Prime Minister, Theresa May warned that it would be a mistake for the UK government to respond to every new variant by closing down the economy. From the United Nations, its Secretary General, Antonio Guterres condemned the action and described it as a “travel apartheid.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Reverend Justin Welby called for the removal of the affected countries from the red list.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated that it is further investigating the Omicron variant. It is likely that  more understanding of the variant will emerge shortly as scientific evidence emerges on its severity.