Nigeria has recently been included in the UK’s red list after cases of the Omicron COVID variant were linked to travel from the country – the state of restrictions has been condemned as ‘travel apartheid’.
People arriving in the UK from Nigerian have been forced to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285 approximately 2,684 euros.
The UK’s department of health said that 21 cases of the Omicron were found to be linked to travel from Nigeria. This is while the UK has 134 cases in total.
The Guardian wrote, ‘The Nigerian high commissioner to London, Sarafa Tunji Isola, said he agreed with the UN secretary general, António Guterres, who criticised measures imposed by various countries against African nations as “travel apartheid”.’
Isola told the BBC that the reaction to Nigeria is that of travel apartheid. This is because Nigeria aligns with the position of the UN secretary general that the travel ban is apartheid, in the sense that the world is not dealing with an endemic situation but a pandemic and hence what is expected is a global approach, not selective one.
She added that the omicron variant is classified as a mild variant with no hospitalisation and no deaths. It is not as lethal as the Delta variant and hence all the panic is unnecessary.
Scientific and empirical evidence support this claim.
Many countries have imposed travel restrictions on African countries with some having no cases yet of the Omicron variant. This has sparked a debate over the effectiveness of border closures and measures have been met with outrage and claims of scapegoating regions after South Africa raised the alarm about the new variant.
Several African leaders have labelled the ban as unfair. President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he is deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from South Africa following the detection of COVID-19 variant Omicron.
All the travel bans imposed on South Africa and other Southern African countries should be lifted before they cause further damage to the countries’ economies and to the livelihoods of people, the president said.
The president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, wrote on Facebook: “Covid measures must be based on science, not Afrophobia.”