As the UK’s omicron travel ban stirs a racism debate in Nigeria, health officials in the country worry the low vaccination rate could trigger a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.
Nigeria became the eleventh African country to be added to the UK’s red list earlier this week over fears travelers from the country could help spread the omicron COVID-19 variant in Britain.
Announcing the ban, the UK’s Department of Health said 21 omicron cases, or 16% of all known cases of the new variant at the time, were linked to travel from Nigeria.
Nigerians join nationals of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Eswatini, Zambia, Lesotho and Namibia who are also banned from entering the UK.
British or Irish nations, or those who have residents rights in the UK, can only enter if they go into a 10-day hotel quarantine, paid at their own expense.
The British travel ban is “not driven by science” and is “unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory,” Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed told reporters on Monday.