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General News of Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Source: www.sunnewsonline.com

Nigerians to face test, isolation as UK rejects coronavirus vaccine certificate

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The United Kingdom has relaxed coronavirus restriction for 50 countries excluding Nigeria and other African countries.

The measure which came into effect yesterday had countries and territories categorised as either “red” or “rest of the world.”  With the new travel rules, the UK has stopped the previous traffic light system of green, amber and red lists. Nigerians entering the UK will be subjected to coronavirus test and isolation in spite of their coronavirus vaccine certificate obtained in Nigeria.

A statement published on its website said eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under-18s returning from the over 50 countries and territories not on the red list, can do so without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT), a day 8 test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period, making it easier for those travelling, whether that’s to see friends and family, or on business trips.

“Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after five days.

“The UK government is continuing to work with international partners as we seek to more regularly expand the policy to further countries and territories.”  The statement said that eligible fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list would be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.Commenting, Grant Shapps, US transport secretary, said:

“We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than 8 in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.

“Also from today, under-18s from the over 50 countries whose vaccination status the UK recognises will not need to present a negative PDT before travelling to England. This applies regardless of their vaccination status.”

Responding to Daily Sun query over the exclusion of Nigeria from the approved list of countries, the UK High Commission in Abuja said the current approach would be kept under regular review and further changes were likely as part of a phased opening up of international travel for vaccinated travellers.  The UK is committed to opening up international travel and we are using our coronavirus vaccine certification process to enable all those wishing to enter the UK to do so safely.

“We understand that there has been some frustration that the new UK travel rules will continue to require people travelling to the UK from Nigeria to quarantine despite having received two doses of recognised coronavirus vaccines in Nigeria.

“Following a pilot with the United States of America and the European Union, the UK is working to recognise vaccine certificates from other countries as part of a phased review of the many COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued across the world. This includes recognising Nigeria’s vaccine certificate and – in the spirit of our long-term partnership – we are working with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that this happens as soon as possible,” the High Commission’s Political Counsellor, Jonathan Bacon said.

Nigerian travelers had in September complained over the coronavirus restriction they suffered in the UK despite being fully vaccinated before leaving the country. Nigerians were forced to undergo test and isolation even though they had certificate to show for the vaccine that took before traveling. Also, they were made to pay for accommodation for isolation and the test.

Following the complaints, the Federal Government assured Nigerians that it was handling the matter. The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said Nigerian officials “are in talks with the UK government.”

He said all the vaccines administered in Nigeria were recognised by the UK adding that the UK in the past had three classifications for vaccination by countries: green, amber and red of which Nigeria is on the amber list. Shuaib said the new advisory would only see countries classified into two lists green and red and hopes that Nigeria maintains the status quo by not being restricted.

On her part, the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing denied reports that her government has placed restrictions on Nigerian travelers. She was confident when she issued a statement that the UK authorities will soon simplify existing travel rules for Nigerians and other international visitors to the country.

“From October 4, 2021, the current system will be simplified. There will be a single red list of countries and territories where stricter rules apply, and there will also be a “rest of the world” list, with simplified travel measures.”

She said the “rest of the world” list will include countries currently on the UK’s amber list, such as Nigeria.

Laing dismissed as untrue reports suggesting that the coronavirus vaccines administered in Nigeria are not approved by the UK.

In the list of countries approved yesterday, no African country was included. Recall that in September, the head of Africa’s health agency had warned that the UK’s policy of not accepting coronavirus vaccine certificates from the continent could increase vaccine hesitancy.

Dr. John Nkegasong, head of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the UK’s stance was confusing and had far-reaching implications for vaccination campaigns.

“We do not understand why the UK has taken this position,” he told a virtual news briefing.

Many Africans are furious, and have called the policy discriminatory. He described the UK policy as “discriminatory.”

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