UK restrictions on Covid, imposed to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, have been condemned as’ travel apartheid ‘by Nigeria’s high commissioner to the UK, who urged authorities to take an’ approach more global ”.
Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Nigeria’s representative in the UK, Sarafa Tunji Isola, said the targeted approach taken by the UK government has created a “Travel apartheid” by limiting travel to and from certain African countries.
Nigeria on Monday became the latest country to be added to the UK’s travel “red list”, with all 11 states on the list located in Africa. The Red List means that the only people allowed to enter the UK are British or Irish nationals and residents. Anyone returning from Red List countries must self-isolate for 10 days at their own expense in a government-approved hotel.
The UK’s decision to impose restrictions on Nigeria was announced on Saturday, with the UK government citing how the “large majority” of Omicron cases in Britain have been linked to “Overseas trips from South Africa and Nigeria”.
Isola is the latest official figure to blow the restrictions, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also using the term “Travel apartheid” last week speaking to reporters in New York. The UN chief has claimed that travel restrictions, such as those imposed by the UK, are “Not just deeply unfair and punitive”, but are ultimately “ineffective.”
Likewise, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo criticized countries for placing restrictions on African nations, calling for measures “Immigration control instruments”.
UK Minister Kit Malthouse refuted the allegation, stating that the use of the phrase “Travel apartheid” is “Very unhappy language”. Defending the restrictions, he argued that they are helpful in giving UK health authorities “a little time” To “Work on the virus and assess how difficult it is going to be.”
The UK Department of Health and Welfare also maintained the restrictions, noting that the government will continue to monitor the potential risk posed by individual countries and territories with regard to the levels of precaution required.