British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said that the ban on UK travels from Nigeria is science-based and not discriminatory as it is being suggested.

Last week, the United Kingdom (UK) announced that travelers from Nigeria would not be permitted to enter the United Kingdom beginning from Monday this week as a result of the growing concerns over an outbreak of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The UK Health Minister, Sajid Javid, who made the announcement, said only residents and citizens of the UK and Ireland travelling from Nigeria would be allowed entry into the region adding that they will have to quarantine on arrival. He said the measures are required to slow the spread of the new variant while scientists work to understand more about the transmissibility and implications for vaccine effectiveness of the variant.

“In light of the most recent data we are taking further action to slow the incursion of the Omicron variant.

From 4 am Monday, only UK/Irish citizens and residents travelling from Nigeria will be allowed entry and must isolate in a managed quarantine facility” the statement said

The Federal government has since condemned the move. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, at a press conference, described the UK's decision to bar flights from Nigeria because of the Omicron variant of COVID19, is unjust and discriminatory. 

In an interview with Channels TV, the UK envoy to Nigeria, dismissed claims that the decision to bar flights from Nigeria is discriminatory. She said the decision was science-based as they were in search of ways to contain the spread of the virus in their country.

''On the point that it is discriminatory, I can say it is not. When the UK was the epicenter of the Alpha variant, we took some very tough measures ourselves to cut ourselves off. We banned all non-essential from the UK. That was a very tough decision for us.

The UK has been red-listed itself in the earlier stages of this variant. We were needlessly barred from Austria, France and Turkey.

So we have been red-listed by other countries.''

''In terms of hearing the reactions from Nigeria, I can tell you the reactions have been heard loud and clear but I don't want to suggest to anybody that that would change the basis of the decision because the health basis has to be the basis on which the decision was made. 

As this unfolds, I hope there would be a point where before too long, Nigeria will be removed from the re list as soon as the health data convinces us that we can do that.''

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