Following the discovery of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Nigeria’s Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, expressed disappointment with the United Kingdom government’s decision to place Nigeria on its red list.
“We were not happy when six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were placed on a red list,” the minister said on Sunday Politics. “The WHO also advised against putting each on the red list.”
The UK announced a plan to halt decisions on visitor visa applications from all red list countries, including Nigeria, through the British High Commission.
The move, according to the minister, was ill-advised because it would have multiple negative effects on commerce and disrupt activities during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“It will cause commerce to be disrupted,” he added. “It’ll cause havoc with family gatherings.”
He explained that while the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Nigerian travelers from the United Kingdom, the cases have yet to be confirmed as the Omicron variant.
Ehanire said Nigeria is anticipating the fourth wave of the disease, reiterating that placing countries on the red list will not help in the global fight against the pandemic.
“If every country put other countries on the ban list, you’d have a large number of countries on your red list very quickly,” the minister said.
“As a result, I believe there are other options.” In Nigeria, we don’t see banning flights and people movements as particularly helpful or supportive.”
The Federal Government, on the other hand, has expressed displeasure with the UK government’s actions thus far.
“From what we know about the COVID-19, there are many ways to manage it, and the Omicron variant is still unknown,” Ehanire said. We know there haven’t been any fatalities, for example.
“There haven’t been any reports of life-threatening illness.” Actually, the justification for being so hasty in adding countries to the red list isn’t very helpful.”