Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Omicron: UK Removes Nigeria, South Africa, Others From ‘Red’ List


The United Kingdom has pledged to get Nigeria, South Africa and the other countries and territories on its travel ban ‘red’ list off of it today.

That kingdom’s High Commissioner Catriona Laing CB and the United Kingdom (UK) Health Security Agency (UKHSA) gave the assured that it will follow up its words with deed today, December 15,2021.

Laing made this statement yesterday (December 14), based on scientific and public health data – to remove Nigeria from the UK’s travel ‘red’ list. The emergence of the Omicron variant is a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and, like all countries around the world, the UK has had to make difficult decisions to protect the health o its public, she said. 

Previously the UK on December 4, 2021, placed Nigeria and other countries on a travel ban ‘red’ list, following the outbreak of the Omicron variant COVID-19, but took the decision to allow these countries to travel into the UK yesterday.

“Passengers arriving from Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will not have to stay in a managed quarantine hotel on arrival in England from today. 

“As Omicron cases rise in the UK and countries around the world, the travel ‘red’ list is less effective in slowing the incursion of the variant from abroad and these temporary measures are no longer proportionate.

“The ‘red’ list has successfully served its purpose in delaying the spread of Omicron into the UK to buy time for scientists to learn more about this variant.

“All vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must continue to take a pre-departure test two days or less before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. These testing measures are vital in helping to prevent any additional cases of Omicron from entering the UK and stopping people from passing it on to others. 

“This is a critical phase in tackling the Omicron and the government’s focus remains on slowing the spread of the variant in the UK – through maintaining testing requirements at the border, introduction of ‘Plan B’ measures and by turbo-charging the booster roll-out.

“We took this necessary precautionary action to give us time to understand the challenge we and others faced and to slow down the spread of Omicron while scientists urgently assess what impact the variant has on vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. 

“I know this will be welcome news for students, tourists, businesses and families in the UK and Nigeria, although I recognise the impact that these temporary health measures have had.

“When we announced the heightened restrictions, we made clear that we would remove them as soon as we could and that is the decision ministers have taken today,” the envoy said.

The UK Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The ‘red’ list bought our scientists time to learn more about Omicron and to slow the seeding of the variant from abroad into the UK. Now that there are high levels of community transmission, it is right to remove the ‘red’ list and focus on our national effort to tackle Omicron.  

“With cases doubling every two to three days we’ve turbo-charged our booster programme. We are asking arrivals to keep testing to limit the spread of new cases and we are introducing ‘Plan B’ measures to protect the country from the threat of this new variant.”

People who have returned from a ‘red’ list country before 4a.m Wednesday, December 15, 2021, must still enter hotel quarantine and complete the full 10 days’ managed isolation. Restrictions will be re-imposed should there be a need to do so to protect public health. 

Airlines will continue to check all passengers for pre-departure tests alongside their completed Passenger Locator Form and passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result. 

The UKHSA continues to monitor the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world and the government is working collaboratively with the World Health Organisation and countries around the world to better understand the new variant.

For passengers who booked a hotel room in a hotel quarantine after 4a.m Wednesday, December 15, they are entitled to a full refund and should contact their hotel operator or booking operator. 

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