Nigeria will be added from Monday to the red list of countries from where people arriving must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, Sajid Javid, UK Secretary of State for Health said on Saturday, as the UK government tightens requirements to come into force from Tuesday.
Travellers heading to the UK will now have to take a Covid test before their departure in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, UK government said.
Travellers will be required to submit evidence of a negative lateral flow or PCR test to enter.
Currently, people only need to self-isolate until they test negative within two days of arriving.
Javid said the government’s strategy since the discovery of the Omicron variant had been to “buy time” to assess and to “put in place protective measures”, adding “we’ve always said that we would act swiftly should new data require it”.
He said: “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”
Javid added the UK government had “been clear that we will take action if it is necessary”, adding it was important to remember vaccinations “are our first line of defence” and calling on people to get a booster dose of a Covid vaccine when called to do so by the NHS.
These tightened rules against Nigeria are seen as part of the hysteria towards Africa.
According to the notice by the British government on Saturday, Nigeria’s addition to the UK red list is a temporary measure that has been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK and will be examined at the three-week review point on 20 December.
“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,” British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said.
This is coming after Canada banned travellers from Nigeria, Egypt, and Malawi over fears of the spread of the new variant.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Friday confirmed the first 3 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The Omicron variant also known as the B.1.1.529 lineage, was confirmed in travellers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria on a day the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, arrived in the country on an official visit.
According to Laing the UK will “continue to work very closely with the Nigerian authorities in tackling the pandemic and commend their ongoing work.”
The statement by the UK government also notified that the 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.
Currently, the majority of cases in the UK have clear links to overseas travel from South Africa and Nigeria, and over the past week 21 reported Omicron cases in England originating from Nigeria, it said.
“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.”
According to the notice, travellers from Nigeria are still able to transit to English airports, provided they have the necessary transit visa.
For more information about transiting through the UK from a red list country, the government recommended travellers to visit its website- www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers