Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has faulted the travel ban imposed on Nigeria and other African countries by the United Kingdom and other Western countries over the Omicron variant of COVID-19, stressing that the move will not work.
Onyeama said this in the Dakar, Senegal at the International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa where African leaders reacted to the recent travel ban on some African countries by the United Kingdom following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in South Africa.
The UK Government in a statement on Sunday also banned flights from Nigeria, stopping citizens of the country and 9 other African countries from entry into the UK. It said that cases of Omicron in the UK were linked to travelers from Nigeria.
This year’s edition of the International Forum focused on the impact COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security, and post-COVID recovery.
The Minister said: “We follow the World Health Organisation’s advice and what they consider not to be the best practice on COVID-19, which is travel restrictions, don’t achieve anything as such.
“Our position aligns with the World Health Organisation’s position. The Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom, is saying that these travel bans are not the solution and that your standard protocols should suffice to address the situation.
“Wearing masks, testing, contact tracing, distancing and other measures are more than enough to address that.
“Travel bans will not work because some countries putting up these bans already have the Omicron variant in their countries and it doesn’t make a difference.
“We should rather be coming together to look at ways we could solve this issue as a global community rather than segmenting.
“The United Kingdom said the increasing number they got was what drove their decision on the travel ban on Nigerians.
“We have to also check our numbers because they don’t tally, they are talking of 21 cases that originated from Nigeria and our people are saying we don’t have anywhere near the number of cases.
“We are working with the UK government so that Nigeria will be removed from the red list.
“They have told us that they are very keen to remove Nigeria as quickly as possible from the red list and we are going to continue to work with them and encourage them to do that.”
On vaccine production, he said: “Having spoken to our medical people, Nigeria has the basic architecture in place to produce her own vaccine.
“All we need is cooperation from experts.”