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UK responds to Nigeria’s frustration over travel restrictions and relaxes rules

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The UK High Commissioner for Nigeria said on Saturday that rules will be relaxed from 4 October following the setbacks experienced by Nigerians visiting the UK over stringent COVID-19 travel protocols.

Nigeria’s High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, said reports that a COVID-19 vaccine administered in Nigeria has not been approved in the UK are not true.

Laing said the UK recognizes Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson’s and Johnson’s vaccines for use in Nigeria, regardless of where they are manufactured.

The statement reads in part as follows: The UK is committed to worldwide access to vaccines and is one of the largest funders for COVAX. The UK has donated 1.2 million vaccines, particularly to Nigeria, through COVAX and will continue to do so.

The UK strongly supports the Nigerian immunization campaign with the Nigerian health authorities and strongly encourages all eligible residents of Nigeria to be vaccinated. Only if we all get vaccinated can we end the spread of COVID-19.

About travel restrictions

Laing said UK authorities will soon streamline existing travel rules for Nigerians and other international visitors.

From October 4, 2021, the current system will be simplified. There is a single red list of countries and territories with stricter rules, and there is a rest of the world list with simplified travel arrangements.

The official said the rest of the world list would include countries currently on the UK’s amber list, such as Nigeria.

She said the UK government is doing its best to keep travel abroad open while using the COVID-19 vaccination certification process to ensure safe entry for those wishing to enter the UK.

We know this is very important to many people in the UK and Nigeria. Extensive people-to-people relations between the two countries are at the heart of bilateral relations.

She also explained that travel rules are regularly reviewed and those planning to travel to the UK should regularly check the website www.gov.uk for the latest information and requirements.

background

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on September 8, 2021, a recent Nigerian traveler said when he arrived in the UK that he was tested for COVID-19 twice, on the 2nd and 8th days of arrival.

The traveler, who did not want to be named, said he was tested despite being in quarantine.

Another Nigerian, who now resides in the UK but has requested not to be named, has expressed dissatisfaction with the British government’s portrayal of robbing Africans.

I can only imagine the frustration of Nigerians visiting the UK. Even after two doses of vaccine in Nigeria, you will still have to pay for accommodation and testing.

A friend of mine paid £160 for the test, equivalent to around N120,000, the source said.

Affected students

Meanwhile, some Nigerians who have recently returned to the UK for educational purposes have reportedly struggled with the protocol.

Some of the students who had previously received the Moderna or Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine twice said the protocol was ’embarrassing’.

Nigeria reaction

At a briefing last week, Faisal Shuaib, secretary general of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said Nigerian officials were “in talks with the British government”.

Responding to the new travel advisory report, Mr Shuaib said all vaccines administered in Nigeria were approved in the UK.

He explained that in the past the UK had three classifications (green, amber and red) for vaccination by country, and Nigeria was on the amber list.

Shuaib said the new advisory would only see countries classified into two lists, green and red, and hoped to keep the status quo by allowing Nigeria to remain unrestricted.

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