Federal government says it will engage the government of the United Kingdom (UK) on the travel restrictions it imposed on Nigerian travellers to the country over the Omicron variant of the COVID-19.
In an interaction with LEADERSHIP yesterday, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Esther Sunsuwa, said the government will “respond appropriately to the restrictions.”
The UK had in a statement on Saturday added Nigeria to the travel red list, from 4am today following 21 cases of Omicron reported in England which were reportedly linked to travels from Nigeria.
The UK said these were temporary measures that had been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the country and would be examined at the three-week review point on 20th December.
Sunsuwa said the ministry will contact the UK authorities first over the reported restrictions and “their response will determine what the ministry will do next.”
“From 4am on Monday, 6th December, UK and Irish citizens and residents arriving from Nigeria must isolate in a government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days, and receive two negative PCR tests, as further precautionary action is taken against the Omicron variant,” the UK statement said.
It said that currently, the majority of cases in the UK had clear links to overseas travels from South Africa and Nigeria, and over the past week 21 reported Omicron cases in England originating from Nigeria.
The statement added that a temporary travel ban will therefore be introduced for all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who have been in Nigeria in the last 10 days, meaning they will be refused entry into the UK. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through Nigeria while changing flights.
Speaking about the decision, British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said: “I know that this decision will have a significant impact on people in both our countries, particularly at this time of year. This decision is a precautionary measure to protect public health in the UK, whilst we try to understand this new variant.
“We continue to work very closely with the Nigerian authorities in tackling the pandemic and commend their ongoing work.”
The statement stressed that travellers from Nigeria are still able to transit English airports, provided they have the necessary transit visa.
“These additional measures are vital to delay the import of additional cases and slow the rise in cases within the UK. However, as the Prime Minister set out on 27th November, the UK Government will review all temporary measures after three weeks to ensure that they remain necessary and proportionate, and this will take place on 20 December,” it added.