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‘We get COVID-positive travellers from UK’ — FG kicks against travel ban

‘We get COVID-positive travellers from UK’ — FG kicks against travel ban
December 06
10:37 2021

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, has faulted the banning of Nigeria and other African countries by the United Kingdom over fears of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Ehanire was speaking on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Sunday.

Following the discovery of the variant by South Africa, a number of countries banned travel from countries in southern Africa and neighboring countries.

On Saturday, the UK announced that it would add Nigeria to the list of countries on its red list as a result of COVID Omicron cases linked to Nigeria.

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The ban, which is effective from today, means only UK residents or citizens of the UK can enter the UK from Nigeria.

When asked how the federal government sees the ban, Ehanire described the action as “unhelpful”, adding that it would cause disruptions in activities.

“We don’t think that’s very helpful. We all know that COVID-19 will be around for quite a time. It is not just a threat to individual countries, but it is a threat to mankind and we must find a way to live with it and support each other and not disrupt livelihoods as we’re trying to save lives,” he said.

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“Many countries were not very happy when six countries in Southern Africa were placed on the red list, and the WHO also advised against putting each other on a red list. 

“Besides, not much is known about the Omicron variant. We know for example that there have been no fatalities, there have also been no reports of severe illness. So actually, the rationale for being so hasty in putting countries on a red list is not something that is very helpful.

“It’s going to disrupt commerce, it’ll going to disrupt family reunions, it is going to disrupt the movement of goods and services particularly at this time of year.”

When asked how Nigeria was going to react to the ban, the minister said: “We’re going to have to discuss this at the level of the steering committee. We regularly get travellers from the UK that are COVID-19 positive. In fact, within the last two weeks, the COVID-19 positive arrivals that we had were 50 percent from the UK.

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“There is genetic sequencing going on, we shall have the results soon. We don’t know how many of them are really Omicron variants. But if every country were to put other countries on a ban list because there are 21 cases in that country, very soon, you’ll have a large number of countries on your red list. I believe that there are other ways to go about it, and we in Nigeria don’t regard banning flights and movement of people as particularly helpful.”

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