NIGERIANS in the UK have launched a petition seeking to get the British government to rescind its recent decision to place Nigeria on its red list of nations from which visitors need to quarantine themselves in hotels for nearly two weeks under its Covid-19 guidelines.
As part of a plan to ease the lockdown and return to normality, the UK has introduced a traffic light health structure with countries placed on green, amber and red lists. Up until now, Nigeria has been on the amber list, which is not as good as the green list, which gives citizens the all-clear but it is not as bad as the red list which bars Britons from travelling to those countries for leisure purposes.
Being on the red list also subjects citizens of the country to certain Draconian quarantine measures, including that when they return to Britain, they must go into isolation in a hotel for about two weeks. Yesterday, Nigeria was placed on the red list, meaning that anyone who returns from Nigeria to the UK, must now be isolated in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of about £2,000.
In addition, all international arrivals to the UK will be required to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests, that must be taken a maximum of 48 hours before the departure time. This rule applies to all travellers over the age of 12 visiting the UK or returning from a holiday, regardless of vaccination status and will come into force as from 4am on Tuesday 7 December.
British health secretary Sajid Javid, said the new measures became necessary as a result of the increasing number of cases of the new Omicron variant was first detected late last month. This is a massive blow for Nigerian diasporans and visitors planning on Christmas travel as only UK citizens and residents will be able to enter the UK from Nigeria and they will have to pay to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.
These sweeping changes come into effect as from 4am on Monday, with Mr Javid saying Nigeria is second only to South Africa for cases linked to Omicron. He added that there are 27 cases of Omicron from Nigeria already in England and the number is growing.
Overall, there are now 160 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, with British scientists having suggested that it could have a shorter incubation period than other variants. Mr Javid acknowledged that the measures are hugely unfortunate for people who already had travel plans but insisted they would be temporary.
Sean Doyle , the chairman of British Airways, said: “The blanket re-introduction of testing to enter the UK, on top of the current regime of isolation and PCR testing on arrival is completely out of step with the rest of the world, with every other country taking a measured approach based on the science. Our customers will now be faced with uncertainty and chaos and yet again this a devastating blow for everyone who works in the travel industry.”
However, Nigerians in the UK have launched a petition against the new measures and have already attracted almost 64,000 signatures. Under UK parliamentary rules, once a petition receives in excess of 100,000 signatures, the House of Commons is compelled to debate the matter.
Created by Dalia Elbeih, the petition is located at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/588072 and reads: “Allow fully vaccinated people coming from red list countries to isolate at home to allow fully vaccinated people who come from red listed countries to isolate at home instead of the hotel quarantine which is very expensive and non affordable.
“People need to go to see their families. Doctors who work for the whole year need to see their parents.
“The hotel quarantine is very expensive and non-affordable. I believe that there should be an exemption for fully vaccinated people and who had a negative PCR to isolate at their place of residence.”