In London yesterday, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, backs Nigeria against UK travel ban over fears of the Omicron variant.
Downing Street added Nigeria on a “red list” of countries whose travellers will no longer be allowed entry into the UK
Bishop Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore the most senior bishop in the Church of England, took exception to the listing.
He therefore supported Nigerian position that the restriction is a form of “apartheid.”
Welby recommended “fair and effective approaches for those who are vaccinated and tested to enter the UK.
“I agree with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK – we cannot have ‘travel apartheid’” he tweeted.
Nigerians who manage to get to the UK after the restrictions became effective on Monday 6 December are paying dearly for it.
They are made to pay £2,285 for a 10-day quarantine and must also successfully undergo two negative PCR test.
Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sarafa Tunji Isola, described the measures as “travel apartheid” on a BBC radio programme.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres first employed the phrase to describe panicky country actions over Omicron fears.
Isola said in a BBC Radio Programme yesterday that Nigeria equally regards the UK ban as a form of travel apartheid.
“Nigeria is aligned with the position of the UN secretary-general that the travel ban is apartheid.
“We’re not dealing with an endemic situation. We are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective.”
He similarly amplified Nigeria’s position that Omicron is classified as a mild variant and has no recorded hospitalizations or deaths.
“So, the issue is quite different from the Delta variant. I mean, the position has to be taken based on scientific and empirical evidence. It is not a kind of panicky situation. We must have the facts.”
UK authorities have however described the phrase, “travel apartheid” as “very unfortunate language.”
Minister of Policing Kit Malthouse told the BBC that the restriction buys time for local scientists to study the variant.
“We understand the difficulties that’s created by these travel restrictions.
“But we’re trying to buy a little bit of time so that our scientists at Porton Down can work on the virus and assess how difficult it’s going to be for us to cope with as a country.”
Omicron variant: London Archbishop backs Nigeria against British Travel Ban