Nigeria not on COVID-19 red list – UK

NEWS DIGEST –  The United Kingdom (UK) Government has assured that Nigeria is not on its red alert list with regards to its new travel advisory scheduled to take effect from October 4, 2021.

It further explained that it has no issue with the vaccines used in Nigeria because they have been approved by its regulatory body, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stringent regulatory authorities.

However, Nigerians entering the UK, regardless of their vaccination status, will have to do a PCR test and isolate for 7 days.

The WHO has however insisted that providing proof of vaccination by persons either entering or leaving any country should not be a prerequisite for entry or exit because of the scarcity in COVID-19 vaccines globally and the inequity in its access and distribution.

Speaking during a joint press briefing of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said: “As you may be aware, the UK Government released a new travel advisory which would take effect from Monday October 4th, 2021. There have been concerns by Nigerians on how this would affect us.

“We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK Government is that they would want to simplify the classification of countries from green, amber and red to just red and green list. Therefore, countries that are currently on the amber list may fall into either of these two categories.

“We have had preliminary discussions with officials of the UK Government. Without prejudice to the information yet to be released, we have been assured that Nigeria will maintain the status quo. That is to say Nigeria will not be on the red list.

“The UK Government has also stated that they have no issues with the vaccines used in Nigeria. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD that is used in Nigeria was approved by the UK regulatory body (MHRA), other stringent regulatory authorities and the World Health Organization. So, the UK Government does recognise the vaccines used in Nigeria.

“The UK is doing a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving in their Country. It is important to stress that this phased approach is still under review by their Government and they would be providing updates regularly.

“For Nigeria at the moment, there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK. A UK citizen on entry into Nigeria regardless of the vaccination status is made to do a PCR test and isolated for 7 days and the same applies for Nigerians entering the UK, you are also required to do PCR test and isolate for a few days. This is called the principle of reciprocity in diplomatic circles.

“We would also like Nigerians to note that the number of people immunised is one of the factors that most countries assess when making travel restrictions.

“This is why we would continue to encourage all eligible Nigerians to visit the nearest designated health facility to get vaccinated.

WHO Country Representative Dr Walter Mulombo urged Nigerians to continue to use the tools of the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) of regular handwashing with soap in flowing water, hand sanitising, proper wearing of facemask, practising social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.