Nigeria condemns UK’s Covid-19 red list as 'travel apartheid'
Nigeria has condemned Britain’s travel restrictions as “travel apartheid”, after the West African nation was placed on the UK’s red list amid fears over the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Sarafa Tunji Isola, Nigeria's high commissioner to the UK, echoed recent comments made by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who described restrictions imposed on some southern African countries as "travel apartheid".
“The reaction in Nigeria is that of travel apartheid. Because Nigeria is actually aligned with the position of the UN secretary general that the travel ban is apartheid, in the sense that we’re not dealing with an endemic situation, we are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective.”
It means travelers arriving from Nigeria in the UK from Nigeria have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285 and have two negative PCR test results, as part of measures that came into force from 4 am on Monday.
Speaking to reporters in New York last week, UN chief Guterres said the only way to reduce the risk of transmission while allowing for travel and economic engagement was to repeatedly test travelers, "together with other appropriate and truly effective measures."
"We have the instruments to have safe travel. Let's use those instruments to avoid this kind of, allow me to say, travel apartheid, which I think is unacceptable," Guterres said.
Leaders of African countries have also condemned the bans as unfair. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday the measures were “deeply disappointing”.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science. Nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant. 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 also to recover from the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.