Nigeria eyes diplomacy to resolve Omicron travel restrictions

PUBLISHED: Tue, 14 Dec 2021 08:09:19 GMT
Felix Onuah
Nigeria’s Aviation minister Hadi Sirika speaks folloing a press conference at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. – The Nigerian government launched plans on Wednesday to create new flag carrier airline Nigeria Air by the end of this year. “I am pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country: Nigeria Air,” Sirika announced. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

ABUJA, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Nigeria is taking diplomatic steps to try to reverse travel bans placed on it by some countries that have added the West African state to their COVID-19 “red lists”, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said on Monday.

Sirika on Sunday said he had recommended that Argentina, Britain, Canada and Saudi Arabia be placed on a COVID-19 “red list,” which would entail a ban on flights, in retaliation for similar restrictions imposed on Nigeria by those countries.

Britain was the first country to announce such a move, which Nigeria has described as unjust and unfair.

Several others have restricted the movement of people from some African nations since the Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong. It has since spread to at least 57 countries.

Read more: Nigeria says found Omicron variant from October samples

“Nigeria has initiated diplomatic steps to make these countries reverse their course,” Sirika told reporters.

“This is ongoing in the interest of all parties concerned and we expect that positive results would emerge within the next one week,” he said at a regular COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.

Sirika said a presidential committee working with government ministries was addressing the restrictions imposed on travellers from Nigeria due to the Omicron variant.

He added that the government has escalated surveillance and control measures around the country and ramped up vaccination, including making booster shots available.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Daily Update
Get the best of CNBC Africa sent straight to your inbox with breaking business news, insights and updates from experts across the continent.
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services. By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.