The UK has added Nigeria to its “red list” for weekend travel, meaning that access from there will be banned except for British and Irish residents.
A Nigerian official on Monday criticized the British government’s travel ban on the West African country amid concerns that the new alternative to the Omicron coronavirus is “punitive, indefensible and discriminatory”.
Health Minister Sajid Javid on Saturday added Nigeria to the UK’s “red list” of travel, which means arrivals from there will be banned except for British and Irish residents. He said there had been a “significant number” of Omicron cases linked to travel with Nigeria, with 27 cases recorded in England.
But Nigerian authorities say they have not reported any new cases of Omicron in the country since announcing on December 1 that they had detected three cases in travelers arriving from South Africa.
Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Muhammad told reporters the British travel ban was “not driven by science” and was “unfair, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory”.
“Instead of these reflexive responses that are driven by fear rather than science. Why can’t the world take a serious look at the question of access to vaccines, and make sure that it is based on the well-established principles of the right of every human being to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, without discrimination on grounds of The race, Muhammad said.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is not considering a travel ban from any country now, Health Minister Osaji Ihaner told the Associated Press news agency. Instead, it focuses on ramping up monitoring and testing as it aims to “strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods”.
Only about 3.78 million of Nigeria’s 206 million people have been fully vaccinated so far. But Al-Nahir said the situation in the country is under control, adding that the government is able to reach 100 million doses. Last week, Nigeria also approved boosters for full vaccination.
New confirmed cases have remained low since the first cases of the new variant were discovered, averaging 80 per day.
Ehanire described the travel ban as an “extreme step” that the Nigerian authorities will not take now “because we know that the virus is spreading in some way and we are doing everything we can to make sure that we reduce the rate of entry of carriers into our country”.
Nigeria requires incoming travelers to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR test within 48 hours of their departure, take another test on the second day after arrival and self-isolate for seven days, after which a third test if they are not fully vaccinated.
Nigeria’s mass vaccination program is gradually gaining momentum as the nation aims to fully vaccinate 55 million people in the next two months. The health minister said Nigeria is also seeking to produce COVID-19 vaccines with domestic funding from government funds and investors.
“We are ready and prepared and we also know that Nigeria in general will consider the needs of the whole of West Africa when they make an investment like this,” he said.