Britain’s ban on Nigerians traveling to the United Kingdom (UK), while allowing many western countries where Omicron is also present, has sparked outrage among Nigerians across the country, who have slammed the British government’s action as racist, misguided, and discriminatory. They are perplexed as to how the British government arrived at such drastic measures, especially since they are not supported by science.
The same sentiment was expressed by the country’s leaders, who were equally shocked and outraged by Britain’s selective red listing of Nigeria and South Africa, their two closest Commonwealth allies.
Rather than attempting to collaborate with its Commonwealth allies, Britain chose to isolate the citizens of these countries for punishment through the ban.
The United Kingdom’s outright ban, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast to the United States Government, whose response to the Omicron variant has received widespread praise for not banning travelers outright, but instead requiring them to produce evidence of a negative test result at the point of departure as well as a day-two test result after arrival in their country.
Expectedly, many Nigerians are outraged and have begun to call on their leaders to retaliate for the UK’s poor treatment by prohibiting flights from their national carrier, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic, as well as British citizens from Africa.
Last week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited several African countries, which some saw as an attempt to galvanize African countries to act in solidarity against Britain and her imperialists.
Some Ministry of Health and NCDC officials who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity questioned the data that served as the basis for the British government’s decision to bar Nigerians.
First, they claimed that the British government acted arrogantly by failing to consult with the Nigerian government about their discoveries.
“As a result, Nigeria is currently in the dark about the nature of the action.”
“The UK, on the other hand, chose to announce the ban without discussing the data in its possession with the Nigerian government,” according to a source.
Nigerian health officials reiterated that the country has a stringent protocol in place that it strictly enforces on travelers leaving the country.
It should be noted that before embarking on a trip to the UK or other countries, any intending traveler must not only complete a passenger location form but also provide proof of a negative COVID test result.
“If this is the case, Nigerian officials are perplexed as to how a passenger who tested negative at the point of departure from Nigeria could test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival on UK soil.”
But, not to be outdone, the UK government took additional measures against Nigeria yesterday, announcing that the British High Commission would halt “making decisions” on visitor visa applications from all red list countries, including Nigeria.
A top official in the Ministry of Health and another reliable source at the NCDC criticized the UK government’s decision.
According to sources, Britain’s action was not supported by science or data.
One of the sources inquired, “What data did they use in making their decision?”
Are there any Nigerians who traveled with a negative COVID 19 test and then tested positive in London?
Did they consult with the NCDC or any other Nigerian officials? They simply placed Nigeria on the red list.”
Interestingly, a top official in the Presidency revealed that the Nigerian government was preparing to respond to the UK government’s action, insisting that the ban imposed on Nigeria had shocked the Presidency.
According to the source, Nigeria was only given one hour’s notice before being placed on the red list, in violation of a known international convention, and the UK government’s action was described as the pinnacle of racism.
“The UK did not discuss the red list with the Nigerian government until one hour before the announcement.” “Is that how it’s done?” Is the slave trade still going on?
This is blatant prejudice against the developing world, particularly Africans. Africa will need to band together and take a stand,” he added. He went on to say that Nigeria and South Africa might have to band together to lead a response. “We should also not allow British citizens to visit our countries.”
Since their government has barred our citizens from entering their country.” The source, who attributed the virus’s spread to vaccine inequality, stated that efforts by Nigeria and other developing countries to purchase the vaccine were purposefully thwarted by developed countries, adding that this was one of the reasons Africa was lagging far behind in vaccination efforts.
“The developed world produces vaccines, and Africa and other developing countries are willing to pay for them, but they are unwilling to sell, and they are preoccupied with taking second, third, and even booster shots, while many countries lack vaccines and are threatening us.”
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“Meanwhile, this Omicron variant did not originate in Africa; rather, it originated in Europe.”
So, what have they done to the European countries where the Omicron has also been detected? Did they also put them on the red list?
The only explanation for targeting Africa is that we are black.
The source stated, “Racism is at the heart of the policy, nothing more, nothing less.”
The United Kingdom updated its so-called Red List over the weekend, indicating countries barred from entering the country due to the new COVID-19 variant known as “omicron.”Many have described the addition of Nigeria to its red list, which includes 11 mostly Southern African countries, as hasty, ill-advised, and lacking scientific basis.
As a result, beginning today, the UK and Irish citizens and residents arriving from Nigeria must isolate in a government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days and receive two negative PCR tests, as additional precautionary measures against the Omicron variant are implemented.
As a result, a temporary travel ban was imposed on all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who had been in Nigeria within the previous 10 days, meaning they would be denied entry into the UK.
This does not apply to those who stayed on the ground and only transited through Nigeria to change flights.
According to analysts who criticized the action, the Omicron variant is now found in over 40 countries worldwide, including many in the European Union, but none has been banned by the British government.
According to a New York Times data analysis, the omicron variant was reported in Austria, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Réunion, and Romania.
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United States were among the others (16 states of America). The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported 33 cases of the Omicron variant in eight European countries as of November 30, including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Portugal.
According to the NPR, this variant has also been discovered in other parts of the world, including Hong Kong and Israel.
According to the New York Times, Omicron could have spread at a convention in New York on November 23, 2021, before South Africa announced it had discovered the variant on its soil.
Given a large number of countries with reported/confirmed cases of the omicron variant, the source insisted that there is no other explanation for the UK’s ban on only black African countries than racism.
As of Friday, Botswana had 19 cases of the Omicron variant, Ghana had 34, Mozambique had two, Nigeria had three, and South Africa had infections in seven of nine provinces.
Similarly, the data showed that Zimbabwe had an unknown number of cases.
Similarly, in the Americas, Brazil had three cases as of Friday, Canada had ten, and the United States had ten.
While Australia had nine cases as of Friday, Japan had two, India had two, Malaysia had one, Singapore had two, South Korea had six, and Sri Lanka had one.
Austria had one case; Denmark had thirteen; Finland had one; France had two; Germany had seven; Greece, Iceland, Ireland, and Italy each had one case; the Netherlands had fourteen; Norway had five; Portugal had thirteen; Spain had five; Sweden had six; Switzerland had two, and the United Kingdom had 42. As of Friday, Israel had reported three cases in the Middle East, while the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia each had one.
According to the sources, the Delta variant was discovered in India, but the UK government did not take the same stern action it did against African countries over the Omicron.
“On March 24, 2021, this Delta variant was first reported in India.” Within a week (around the 1st of April), India was reporting over 100,000 new infections per day, with the number continuing to rise.
But the United Kingdom did nothing. The UK government did not add India to the red list until a full month later (around April 23, 2021).
“How come it only took them a few days, during which not much was known about omicron, to add 11 African countries to their red list?” the source inquired further.
“Nigerians are currently enraged about vaccine colonization in the world today; this has exposed advanced economies’ hypocrisy toward developing countries,” it added.
Analysts agreed with the WHO Director-General, who was recently quoted as saying that the high rate of vaccine colonization had harmed global cooperation, resulting in the deglobalization of the global economy.
The United Kingdom has halted the issuance of visas to Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission announced its intention to halt “making decisions” on visitor visa applications from all red list countries, including Nigeria, in order to support the country’s health system.
The decision was made public yesterday in a statement.
“In order to support the UK Government’s goal of protecting public health from COVID-19 and associated variants of concern (VOC), UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) will halt making decisions on visitor visa applications in all red list countries, including Nigeria, until travel restrictions are lifted.”
“If you apply for a visit visa in a country on the red list and meet the UK Immigration Rules, your application will be paused.”
While the red list travel restrictions remain in effect, you will not receive a decision on your visit visa application.
“Once you have provided your biometrics at a Visa Application Centre, you will not be able to request a refund of your visa fee” (VAC).
If you already have a valid visit visa and plan to visit England as a visitor from a red list country, you will be denied entry,” the statement added.
In a related development, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont confirmed that a fully vaccinated man was the state’s first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The man, who is in his 60s, is from Hartford County, according to state officials.
The presence of the variant was confirmed by sequencing at the Connecticut State Public Health Laboratory.
On November 27, the man began to experience mild symptoms.
An at-home COVID 19 test came back positive two days later, and a molecular test came back positive on December 1, according to nbcconnecticut.com.
Lamont also stated that vaccinations reduced the need for COVID 19 restrictions or mandates in the state.