COVID-19: Nigeria not on UK travel red list – NPHCDA

...WHO insists vaccination should not be a prerequisite for travel

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Tuesday said Nigeria will not be added to the UK travel red list.

The UK government has released a new travel advisory which will take effect from October 4th, and there have been concerns that Nigeria may be moved to the ‘red’ list; this means anyone coming from Nigeria to the UK must quarantine in a government-mandated hotel for two weeks at his or her expense.

But, Faisal Shuaib, executive director, NPHCDA said officials of the UK government have assured the Nigerian government that Nigeria will maintain its status quo. According to him, the UK government has no issue with the vaccines used in Nigeria.

Shuaib, who said this at the regular press briefing of the agency in Abuja said, “We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK Government is that they would want to simplify the classification of countries from green, amber, and red to just red and green list. Therefore, countries that are currently on the amber list may fall into either of these two categories.

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“We have had preliminary discussions with officials of the UK Government. Without prejudice to the information yet to be released, we have been assured that Nigeria will maintain the status quo. That is to say, Nigeria will not be on the red list.”

” The UK Government has also stated that they have no issues with the vaccines used in Nigeria. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD that is used in Nigeria was approved by the UK regulatory body (MHRA), other stringòent regulatory authorities and the World Health Organization,” he added.

“So, the UK Government does recognize the vaccines used in Nigeria.”

The ED also informed that the UK is doing a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving in their country, but said there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK.

He however informed that the phased approach is still under review by the UK Government and they would be providing updates regularly.

He said the principle of reciprocity remains. This, according to Shuaib, means that a UK citizen on entry into Nigeria regardless of the vaccination status, is made to do a PCR test and isolated for seven days and the same applies for Nigerians entering the UK.

Shuaib stressed that the number of people immunized has become a major factor that most countries assess when making travel restrictions, and urged all eligible Nigerians to visit the nearest designated health facility to get vaccinated.

“We are beginning to see not just the UK Government but other developed Countries also instituting more stringent COVID-19 guidelines for travel and public spaces. As the pandemic evolves, we may get to a point where Countries would not allow the entry of unvaccinated individuals”, he said.

Meanwhile, Walter Kazedi, WHO country representative to Nigeria reiterated that WHO does not approve the use of vaccination as proof to enter or exit any country.

Kazedi explained that there is still so much inequality in terms of vaccine supply and until there is global vaccine equity, countries are advised to rather consider quarantine requirements.

This, according to him, worsen current vaccine inequity.

“The proof of vaccination should not be a travel prerequisite especially as the vaccines are still in short supply, and no region should be restricted more. We urge all countries to respect international principles and treat all equally regardless of the vaccines they receive” he said.

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