ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria plans to ban flights from Argentina, Britain, Canada and Saudi Arabia from this week in retaliation for being added to those countries’ red lists over the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant last month, the aviation minister said.
Several countries 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.
In recorded comments shared with journalists on Sunday, Nigeria’s aviation minister Hadi Sirika said he had recommended that the four countries should be placed on a COVID-19 “red list,” which would entail a ban on flights.
“We have given our input as aviation that it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina be also put on red list, just like they did similarly to us,” Sirika said.
“So, I am very sure between now and Monday or perhaps Tuesday maximum, all those countries will be put on the red list. Once they are on the red list, which means they are banned, their airlines will also be banned.”
Britain was the first country to announce a travel “red list”, which Nigeria has described as unjust and unfair.
The World Health Organization has said countries should apply an “evidence-informed and risk-based approach” when deciding on travel measures related to Omicron, including possible screening or quarantine of international passengers, adding that blanket bans do not prevent its spread.
(Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Barbara Lewis)