THE United Kingdom has removed eleven African countries, including Nigeria, from its red list.
UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, saying it would take effect at 4am on Wednesday.
Several ministers had suggested in previous days that the list could be scrapped as the UK had seen widespread cases unrelated to recent travels.
Javid told parliament that the Omicron vairiant had spread so widely such the rules no longer had much purpose.
“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad.”
He said the new highly-transmissible COVID-19 variant Omicron was spreading at a ‘phenomenal rate,’ with cases doubling every two to three days, adding that primary care services and GPs would be focusing only on the vaccination programme and ‘urgent’ needs.
The red list was reintroduced in late November and travellers from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe had been required to pay for and self-isolate in a pre-booked, government-approved hotel for 10 days.
With the removal of all the 11 countries from that list, it was confirmed that those currently in managed quarantine would be allowed to leave early and “follow the rules as if they had arrived from a non-red list country.”
Only those who have tested positive will remain in isolation, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay told the House of Commons.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the British High Commission in Nigeria to revoke its decision regarding the non-issuance of visas to Nigerians over the COVID-19 Omicron variant or face a shutdown.