Omicron: UK restriction on Nigeria is travel apartheid, says Nigerian High Commissioner

December 6, 2021
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The Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Sarafa Isola, has described the travel ban slammed on Nigeria by the UK as travel apartheid, and discriminatory.

He said Nigeria aligned with the position of the United Nations Secretary-General that there should be no travel apartheid against countries with Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaking on CNN Quest Means Business on Monday night, the high commissioner submitted that Omicron was brought to Nigeria by travellers from the UK, stressing that the travel ban has caused an outrage in the country.

Isola stated, “It is discriminatory, absolutely. Nigeria aligns with position of the UN Secretary General on this issue; what he described as travel apartheid; apartheid in the sense that the issue of Omicron as at today, there are only three cases detected in Nigeria. During the last week of November, precisely between 22nd and 28th, about 67 travellers that tested positive for COVID in Nigeria were mostly from UK and Nigeria did not on account of that place a travel ban on people from the United Kingdom.’’

The envoy saluted the South Africans for detecting the variant, adding that the next step is for scientists to study its structure and features.

“Under normal circumstances, this variant has been discovered in South Africa. We salute the efforts of the South Africans for alerting the world to the Omicron variant. The next thing should be for scientists in the world to determine the various features of the variant. I must say as of today, South Africa did confirm that this variant does not involve any hospitalisation neither does it involve any death. So the issue of slamming bans on account of that variant is not the right thing to do,” the diplomat submitted.

On the low vaccination rate in the country, Isola attributed this to low availability of vaccines, adding that Africa has not received its fair share of vaccines.

He noted, “ Africa has not been able to take its due vaccines. The UN Secretary General also alluded to the fact that this non-vaccination of Africans is not their fault. This is not an African disease, it was brought to Africa and our leaders have done all within their powers to ensure vaccines are brought to Africa but production of vaccines is such that what comes to Africa is limited.

“I must say that even during the first and second wave, the process was well managed in Nigeria and we didn’t have cause to go on the red list. That’s why there is outrage in Nigeria now.”

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