Nigeria Criticizes UK’s COVID-19 ‘Red’ Travel List as ‘Travel Apartheid’

Nigeria has criticized the United Kingdom’s decision to add the African country to its red travel list amid fears over the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

“The reaction in Nigeria is that of travel apartheid,” Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK Sarafa Tunji Isola told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Dec. 6, echoing comments from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week.

“What is expected is a global approach, not selective,” Isola said.

The UK added Nigeria to the red travel list on Dec. 4, becoming the 11th country to enter the list that currently includes only African countries.

The travel restrictions came into force on Dec. 6.

Under the restrictions, travelers arriving from Nigeria will be required to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for 10 days at the cost of £2,285.

The restrictions came just days after Nigeria reported its first three cases of the Omicron variant.

UK Minister for Policing Kit Malthouse defended the decision, telling the radio program that the phrase “travel apartheid” was “very unfortunate language.”

“We understand the difficulties that’s created by these travel restrictions, but we’re trying to buy a little bit of time so that our scientists at Porton Down can work on the virus and assess how difficult it’s going to be for us to cope with as a country,” Malthouse said.

On Dec. 1, Guterres told reporters that isolating specific countries or regions due to the “borderless” virus “are not only deeply unfair and punitive, they are ineffective.”

Guterres called on all governments to instead consider repeated testing for travelers.

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