The United Kingdom has included Nigeria in its red list category as it tightens travel restrictions in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
The UK government’s travel advisory on Nigeria said “From 0400 on Monday 6 December, Nigeria will be added to the red list for entering England.”
Accordingly, Nigerians who do not have UK citizenship or residence permit and even fully vaccinated persons can no longer travel to the country until the advisory is revised.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, as reported by the BBC on Saturday, “Over the recent days we have learnt of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.
“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing and Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”
It was gathered that UK had also placed a temporary ban on air travel from six southern African countries — South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe — with immediate effect to prevent importation of the variant into Britain.
However, the new protocol announced on Saturday, indicated that non-UK and non-Irish citizens who are travelling in from Nigeria will not be allowed entry into the UK.
“Over the recent days, we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria. There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria narrows second only to South Africa in terms of cases linked to Omicron,” Javid said.
The UK Health Secretary explained that only UK residents or citizens of the UK can enter the UK from Nigeria from that point onwards, and they would have to quarantine in one of the relevant hotels.
“We’ve also decided to require pre-departure tests for all inward travellers that will be effective from 4am on Tuesday, and they’ll be required maximum of 48 hours before the departure time,” he added.
A statement by the British High Commission also noted that the ban is temporary and “follows 21 recent cases of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron) linked to Nigeria”.
However, Nigeria first reported cases of the Omicron variant on Wednesday.
The South Africa National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) had, on November 25, announced the discovery of 22 positive cases of the new Omicron variant.
Following the discovery, a number of countries also banned travel from countries in southern Africa.