UK to remove Nigeria, others from red list
The United Kingdom is expected to remove Nigeria from its red list and the travel bans it imposed over fears of the Omicron variant.
The Guardian Uk reported that all 11 countries on England’s travel red list are to be taken off it from 4:00am on Wednesday, amid diminishing concern about Omicron cases being imported into the country.
UK health secretary Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday that a mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving from some southern African countries will end.
Instead, all travellers arriving in England will be able to isolate at home. If double vaccinated, they can be released with a negative PCR test taken within two days of arrival. If not they must stay at home for 10 days and get a test before day two and another on day eight or later.
Javid announced that the red list was being emptied on Tuesday in parliament as it had become “less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad.”
He said the requirement to get tested before departure would remain in place.
Javid had hinted at the move in a statement to the Commons last week.
Amid pressure from the parliament, Javid said that because Omicron cases would probably spread quickly in the UK, there would be “less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all.”
Last week, the UK placed Nigeria on its red list, adding a pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for all in-bound travellers and arrivals from the country. The country further placed a temporary suspension on reviewing and issuing visitor visa applications from all red list countries, including Nigeria.
In addition to the new restrictions, travellers who had been in a red list country 10 days before arriving in the UK have been required to quarantine for 10 days in a quarantined hotel and take a COVID-19 test.
The red list was cleared at the end of October, but after the discovery of the Omicron variant in South Africa, 11 countries were put back on it. They were: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by the action.
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.
The Nigeria government and its diplomat accused the UK of instituting travel apartheid against Nigeria and other countries.
Nigeria announced at the weekend that it was considering placing the UK on its travel red list and also restricting flights from there.