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Omicron: Governors, Senators Blast UK, Canada For Imposing Travel Ban On Nigerians

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The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the National Assembly have reacted to the travel ban placed on Nigeria by Canada and United Kingdom over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Omicron: Governors, Senators Blast UK, Canada For Imposing Travel Ban On Nigerians

KanyiDaily recalls that the UK had added Nigeria to its red list since on Monday, December 6, following the discovery of three cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

Canada had also imposed a travel ban on Nigerians after it confirmed two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in persons who had recently traveled from Nigeria.

Nigerian Governors in a statement by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, described the ban as not only hasty, but an “act of arbitrary stigmatisation.”

The statement read: “Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, wishes to draw the attention of the World Health Organization to the arbitrary stigmatisation that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation based on omicron spread. “Only three cases of the Omicron variant of the Corona virus were detected in Nigeria less than a week ago, precisely on December 1st, 2021.

“Canada and the United Kingdom have hastily included Nigeria among the Omicron present countries which must stay away from their shores, an action viewed by the NGF as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory.

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“Omicron still remains relatively unknown globally as it is not yet clear whether it is more transmissible from person to person compared to other variants including Delta.

“It is very discouraging to note that there are several countries that have reported cases of Omicron similar to or higher than Nigeria’s, that have not been banned from entry to the UK and/Canada.

“Confirmed Omicron cases as at December 3rd, across some countries are: Nigeria (3); Australia (7); Brazil (3); Germany (9) Israel (4); Italy (9) & Netherlands (16). There is also no evidence that harsh, blanket travel bans will protect the countries that impose them.

“It is ironical that this ban comes at a time when the DG of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, advised that “rational proportional risk reduction measures” be taken by countries such as screening passengers prior to departure and/or upon arrival in a country, or enforcing a quarantine period.

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“The NGF therefore urges the WHO to intervene in this matter by setting uniform standards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the globe.

“As we know, vaccine hesitancy is quite high and for many reasons including disruptive announcements like this which could exacerbate distrust of the vaccine and heighten hesitancy.

“World leaders and stakeholders in the West need to remember that with the COVID-19 pandemic, until everyone is free, no one is free. Variants will continue to appear and spread across the globe as long as global herd immunity has not been achieved.

“We call on countries to be guided by science and fairness in setting the criteria for updating their red list. We encourage both public and private stakeholders to continue to support vaccination efforts and address hesitancy. We encourage Nigerians not to be discouraged and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

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Nigeria Don’t Deserve To Be On UK’s Red List – Senate

The Senate said Nigeria does not deserve to be on the UK’s red list and called on major vaccines powers, namely Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire human race.

The Senate also charged the administration to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

These were some of the resolutions reached by the chamber yesterday, following the consideration of a motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List” sponsored by Senator Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West).

Coming under orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the government of Nigeria in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases, saying “Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.

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He said, “The decision by the British government to include Nigeria in their COVID-19 list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holiday with their families,” he said.

“Also worried that Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the U.K within this period will be denied visa and those with visa will not allowed to enter the U.K., the lawmaker noted that Nigerians had consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organization, WHO, and U.K Government for travelers, prior to the ban.

“Targeting Afrigan countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounts to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on our cordial diplomatic relationship with the U.K.,” Ekweremadu said, and drew the attention of the Senate to global concerns over vaccines hoarding, and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.”

In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the decision to include Nigeria on the U.K. COVID-19 red list posed a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries and bemoaned the poor treatment of Nigeria by the U.K. government.

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Lawan, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene, with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.

He said, “Let there be justification for it. We are not saying they cannot put any country on the red list, including Nigeria, but there must be reasons for doing that.

“Of course, Nigeria has done so well to the admiration of many countries in the area of containment of COVID-19.

“Therefore, we don’t see any reason Nigeria will be on that so-called red list. I believe Nigerians deserve better treatment from the British government. I’m using this opportunity to ask the British Parliament to mount pressure on their government to remove Nigeria from the so-called red list.”

KanyiDaily recalls that the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina had also criticized the travel ban placed on some African countries over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

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