• 13 countries add UK to their red list for Omicron cases
Festus Akanbi in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja with agency reports
The federal government plans to add the UK, Argentina, Canada and Saudi Arabia to the Red List countries, following their decision to impose travel restrictions on Nigeria.
In addition, while the UK has imposed restrictive measures against Nigeria and other countries due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID19, around 13 countries have also banned travelers from the UK from entering their territory.
The UK had imposed travel restrictions on Nigeria, saying 21 cases of Omicron recorded in England were linked to travelers from Nigeria.
But the travel ban was followed by global outrage with some national and international actors describing it as racist and discriminatory.
The federal government had also condemned the UK’s decision, with Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed calling it discriminatory, unfair, punitive, indefensible and unjust.
In a leaked voice note obtained by THISDAY yesterday, Aviation Minister Senator Hadi Sirika said the decision to ban these countries in retaliation would be made by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 at most. late Tuesday.
“In addition, there is the case of Saudi Arabia, which put Nigeria on the banned list – no visa, no travel, and Cetra. So also Canada. So today there was a meeting, I attended a zoom meeting, COVID-19 working group, just for your information as well.
“We have given our opinion on aviation, it is not acceptable to us and we recommend that these countries – Canada, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Argentina also be put on the red list, as they did the same way we did.
“If they do not allow our citizens to enter their country, which airlines choose our country?
“So I’m very sure that in the next few days, by Monday, or maybe Tuesday, at the most, all of these countries will be put on the red list of the PSC (Presidential Steering Committee) of the COVID working group – 19. Once they’re redlisted which means they’re banned, of course their airlines will be banned.
“I am very sorry, we are going through a difficult time, but we have to do it in the interest of our country,” said Sirika.
Following the 21 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 reported in England, which are believed to have been linked to travel from Nigeria, the UK had imposed travel restrictions on Nigeria.
As part of the measure, the UK has added Nigeria to the red list of countries from which arriving people must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, in order to limit the spread of the Omicron strain of COVID -19.
This implies that British and Irish citizens arriving from Nigeria must self-isolate in a government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days and receive two negative PCR tests, as additional precautionary measures are taken against the Omicron variant.
A temporary travel ban has also been introduced for all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who have stayed in Nigeria in the past 10 days, meaning they have been banned from entering the UK.
Canada and Saudi Arabia had also banned travelers from Egypt, Nigeria and Malawi over fears of the spread of the new Omicron variant.
Meanwhile, around 13 countries have also banned British travelers from entering their territory.
The measures taken by the countries have come in response to the increase in cases of the Omicron variant in the UK.
Agency reports monitored by THISDAY yesterday indicated that with the increase in cases of the new variant of Omicron in the UK, some governments have taken action to bar UK citizens from entering their country.
According to the latest information from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in London, countries like Australia, the Falkland Islands, Indonesia Buhutan, China, Israel, Japan, Laos, New Zealand and Suriname have imposed travel restrictions in the UK.
In addition, Malaysia and Taiwan have banned entry for British travelers and foreign nationals.
Chinese authorities have also suspended all direct flights from the UK.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) had announced that the country had only recorded six confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant Omicron.