Omicron: Nigeria urges Britain to rescind red list decision

Solomon Chung, Abuja

Nigeria has called on the British government to rescind the decision of putting Nigeria on the red list over the latest Omicron variant.
This call was made by the country’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed during a Press conference on Monday in Abuja.
Alhaji Mohammed said the decision by the British government to put Nigeria on the red list, just because of less than two dozen cases of Omicron is unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory and not driven by science.

“We sincerely hope the British government will immediately review the decision to put Nigeria on its red list and rescind it immediately. Nigeria has handled the Covid-19 pandemic with utmost responsibility and based on science, and has rightly earned global accolades for its efforts. Nigeria does not belong on any country’s red list.
How do you slam this kind of discriminatory action on a country of 200 million people, just because of less than two dozen cases? Whereas British citizens and residents are allowed to come in from Nigeria, non-residents from the same country are banned. 
The two groups are coming from the same country, but being subjected to different conditions. Why won’t Britain allow people in both categories to come in, and be subjected to the same conditions of testing and quarantine? This is why this decision to ban travelers from Nigeria, who are neither citizens nor residents, is grossly discriminatory and punitive,” he explained.
The Minister said the type of travel ban has been slammed on some African countries, is a knee-jerk reaction that can only be detrimental to the quest to most conclusively tackle this pandemic.

He further stated that Instead of these reflex responses that are driven by fear, rather than science, the world leaders should take a serious look at the issue of access to vaccines. Again, he said the global leaders should ensure that it is based on the principles grounded in the right of every human to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health care without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, political belief, economic or any other social condition.

“Some of these countries bought doses five times the size of their population, while others, mostly in Africa, have little or no access to vaccines. This is the real issue to address, instead of choosing the easy path of travel bans, which the UN Secretary General called Travel Apartheid. Let the world know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Revised Protocol
The Minister however gave an update of the revised covid-19 protocol which came into effect yesterday (5, Dec. 2021).
He explained that the revised protocol is aimed at further reducing the risk of importation and exportation of COVID-19, especially the variants of concern.
Under the revised protocol, passengers arriving in Nigeria are expected to provide evidence of and comply with the following rules:
– COVID-19 PCR test to be done within 48 hours before departure
– Post-arrival Day 2 COVID-19 PCR test
– Self-isolation for 7 days (for unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated individuals)
– Day 7 post-arrival exit PCR test (for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals).
On the other hand, out-bound passengers are required to provide:
– Valid evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19
– Negative PCR test result within 48hrs from the time boarding.
The Minister affirmed that these are science-driven actions, rather than those based on emotions and other extraneous reasons. However, he said if any country is not satisfied with Nigeria’s revised protocol, such nations can subject Nigerians arriving in their country to their own PCR tests and proven conditions, like quarantine, instead of banning them out rightly.
On December 5, Britain put Nigeria on its red list and banned foreign travels from the country. This is as a result of the discovery of Covid-19 Omicron variant cases in Nigeria.
Britain now joins other countries, including Canada, which have taken a similar action against Nigeria over Omicron.




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