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UK bans foreign travellers from Nigeria over COVID Omicron concerns

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The United Kingdom says Nigeria will be added to the countries on its red list as a result of the discovery of COVID Omicron cases linked to Nigeria.

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, disclosed this on Saturday in a television interview.

The South Africa National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) had, on November 25, announced the discovery of 22 positive cases of the new Omicron variant.

Following the discovery, a number of countries banned travel from countries in southern Africa.

The UK had also placed a temporary ban on air travel from six southern African countries — South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe — with immediate effect to prevent importation of the variant into Britain.

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According to the new protocol announced on Saturday, non-UK and non-Irish citizens who are travelling in from Nigeria will not be allowed entry into the UK.

“Over the recent days, we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria. There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria narrows second only to South Africa in terms of cases linked to Omicron,” he said.

“So today, the government has decided to add Nigeria to the travel red list and that will be effective from 4am on Monday. This will mean that only UK residents or citizens of the UK can enter the UK from Nigeria from that point onwards, and they would have to quarantine in one of the relevant hotels.

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“We’ve also decided to require pre-departure tests for all inward travellers that will be effective from 4am on Tuesday, and they’ll be required maximum of 48 hours before the departure time.”

A statement by the British High Commission also noted that the ban is temporary and “follows 21 recent cases of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron) linked to Nigeria”.

The ban will also not apply to persons “staying airside and only transiting through”.

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