The UK government has added Nigeria to the country’s ‘Travel Red List’ following reported cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant linked to travel from the West African country.
The UK government in a statement Saturday night, said: “Nigeria to be added to the travel red list from 4 am Monday 6 December following 21 cases of Omicron reported in England which are linked to travel from Nigeria.
“These are temporary measures that have been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK, and will be examined at the three-week review point on 20 December”
Speaking about the decision British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said:
“I know that this decision will have a significant impact on people in both our countries, particularly at this time of year. This decision is a precautionary measure to protect public health in the UK, whilst we try to understand this new variant.
“We continue to work very closely with the Nigerian authorities in tackling the pandemic and commend their ongoing work.”
From 4 am on Monday 6 December, the UK and Irish citizens and residents arriving from Nigeria must isolate in a Government-approved managed quarantine facility for 10 days, and receive two negative PCR tests, as further precautionary action is taken against the Omicron variant.
Currently, the majority of cases in the UK have clear links to overseas travel from South Africa and Nigeria, and over the past week, 21 reported Omicron cases in England originating from Nigeria.
A temporary travel ban will therefore be introduced for all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who have been in Nigeria in the last 10 days, meaning they will be refused entry into the UK. This does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through Nigeria while changing flights.
Travellers from Nigeria are still able to transit English airports, provided they have the necessary transit visa. For more information about transiting through the UK from a red list country please visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers
These additional measures are vital to delay the import of additional cases and slow the rise in cases within the UK. However, as the Prime Minister set out on 27 November, the UK Government will review all temporary measures after three weeks to ensure that they remain necessary and proportionate, and this will take place on 20 December.
Last weekend, 10 countries were added to the red list and it was announced that all vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must take a day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Since then, the geographical spread of Omicron has increased considerably, with 37 countries around the world now reporting Omicron cases and over 134 cases identified in the UK.
New analysis conducted by the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) indicates that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant, which increases the efficacy of pre-departure testing as it is more likely to identify positive cases before travel.
The UKHSA continues to monitor the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world, and Government is working collaboratively with the WHO and countries around the world to better understand the new variant and possible mitigations.
Given the reduced incubation period of the Omicron variant, passengers are advised to take the pre-departure test as close as possible to their scheduled departure to the UK and no earlier than 48 hours before travelling.
Anyone arriving from Nigeria before 4am Monday 6 December, will be advised and strongly encouraged to isolate at home for 10 days from the beginning of their arrival in England. Their household should also self-isolate for 10 days with them. Affected individuals will be contacted and offered free PCR tests to be taken on day 8 after their arrival.
Travellers should not attempt to travel to the UK from a red list country without a Managed Quarantine Service (MQS) booking, as they will not be able to board a flight and could be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice at the UK border.
You must book your managed quarantine package before you travel to England using the booking portal administered by Corporate Travel Management (CTM). A link to the CTM booking portal can be found on: www.gov.uk/guidance/booking-and-staying-in-a-quarantine-hotel-when-you-arrive-in-england.
The Managed Quarantine Service has contracted several new hotels to enter service this week, in response to the likely numbers of UK residents who will want to travel from Nigeria before Christmas. Our advice is to keep checking the CTM website as there are significant number of cancellations happening which will free up rooms.
British nationals in Nigeria should check Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/nigeria and follow local guidance.
The FCDO will continue to offer tailored consular assistance to British nationals in a country in need of support overseas on a 24/7 basis.
If you are a British National in Nigeria and require Consular Assistance please use our online contact form: www.gov.uk/contact-consulate-abuja. You can also call: +234 (9) 4623100.