The United Kingdom (UK) yesterday added Nigeria to its Red List of countries whose nationals are prevented from entering its territory on account of the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Already on the list are Angola, Botswana,eSwatini,Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique,Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In effect, from 4am tomorrow, only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel.
On the other hand, from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination.
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said the government decided to move after receiving new data about the spread of the Omicron variant, which emerged in southern Africa.
“Since we have learned of this new variant, our strategy has been to buy time. We have always said we will act swiftly should new data require it,” he said.
“Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.
“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”
Javid also took to his Twitter account @sajidjavid saying: “In light of the most recent data we are taking further action to slow the rate incursion of the Omicron variant.From 4am Monday,only UK/Irish citizens & residents travelling from Nigeria will be allowed entry and must isolate in a managed quarantine facility.
“And from 4am Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the Red List will be required to take a pre-departure test, regardless of their vaccination status.”
Under the new rules, from 4am on Monday only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the country and must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel. And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination.
The pre-departure procedure requires all inbound travellers to take a test a maximum of 48 hours before departure time.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Thursday confirmed the first three cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the country.
It said it was confirmed in travellers from South Africa who arrived in Nigeria.
Canada had earlier in the week also banned travellers from Nigeria after claiming to have confirmed that two residents who recently visited Nigeria were infected.
In South Africa itself COVID 19 cases rose by 408% in just one week with the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases saying it recorded 16,366 cases between Friday and yesterday.
Twenty one deaths were recorded yesterday in the country.
Most of the latest infections – 11,607 of them – were recorded in the epicentre Gauteng province
Scientists say the variant has already reached every province in the country.
The Federal Government on Friday announced its approval of the administration of COVID-19 booster doses for persons that have completed two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or one dose of Johnson & Johnson as part of the effort to put the spread of Omicron in check.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said in Abuja that aside from being 18 years and above, eligible persons for the booster doses must have taken their second dose of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech six months before the booster doses.
Also, for those who have taken a single dose of Johnson & Johnson, there must be a two month time interval before receiving the booster dose. Eligible persons for the booster doses are advised to visit the nearest health facility or mass vaccination site from December 10, 2021 across the country.
Eligible Nigerians were advised to visit the nearest health facility or mass vaccination site for their booster doses as from the 10th of December, 2021 across all states of the federation.
Shuaib said a COVID-19 booster dose gives greater protection against the virus and urged all Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The list of the vaccination sites is available on the NPHCDA website: www.nphcda.gov.ng