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UK removes Nigeria from ‘red list’

Nigeria and 10 other African countries have been removed from the United Kingdom’s red list, which was imposed in response to concerns over the Omicron COVID19 strain.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said UK Ministers made the decision based on scientific and public health data.

A statement by the Commission in Abuja on Tuesday said the 11 countries will be removed by 4:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 15, as the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain worldwide.

The statement said passengers arriving in England from Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will not be required to stay in a supervised quarantine hotel.

Pre-departure tests and PCR testing on or before day 2 after arrival will however remain in place, it added.

With the rise in Omicron cases around the world, the red list is now deemed less effective in slowing the incursion of the variant into the UK and the ban is no longer proportionate, Ms Laing said.

Impeding flight flow

The UAE had previously barred Nigeria’s Air Peace from flying to Sharjah. It also joined the UK, Canada, and Argentina in adding Nigeria to its travel ban list due to the omicron variant, which it still maintains.

The presidential COVID-19 steering committee informed Nigerians that the Federal Government was striving to stop the flight restrictions within a week.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, met with Emirates Airline representatives, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, and heads of aviation authorities to discuss the flight flow between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nigeria.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyema and his aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika, were present for the meeting.

After a 3-hour meeting, Gbajabiamila assured journalists that Nigeria and the UAE had solid diplomatic relations and that the current dispute would not detract from their long-standing friendship.

Reporting by Hamza Alkali, Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Saadatu Albashir