Following frustration experienced by Nigerians visiting the United Kingdom over strict COVID-19 travelling protocols, the British High Commission on in Nigeria on Saturday said beginning from October 4, the rules will be relaxed.
A statement credited to the high commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing, also noted that reports suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccines administered in Nigeria are not approved by the UK are untrue.
Ms Laing said the UK recognises the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson’s and Johnson’s vaccines used in Nigeria, irrespective of where they are manufactured.
The statement reads in part: “The UK is committed to global access to vaccines, and is among the largest funders to COVAX. The UK has donated 1.2 million vaccines specifically to Nigeria through COVAX and will continue to provide support.
“The UK strongly supports the work of the Nigerian health authorities and Nigeria’s vaccination campaign, and strongly encourages all eligible residents in Nigeria to get vaccinated. Only once we are all vaccinated can we end the spread of COVID-19.”
On travel restrictions
Ms Laing said 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.”
The official said the “rest of the world” list will include countries currently on the UK’s amber list, such as Nigeria.
She said the UK government is committed to opening up international travel while using its COVID-19 vaccination certification process to enable those wishing to enter the UK to do so safely.
“We know this matters hugely to many people in the UK and Nigeria – the extensive people-people ties between our two countries are at the heart of our bilateral relationship.”
She also explained that travel rules are kept under regular review and people planning to travel to the UK should regularly check the latest information and requirements as set out on the www.gov.uk website.
A recent Nigerian traveller who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said on September 8, 2021, when he arrived the UK, he was made to undergo two COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of his arrival
The traveller, who did not want to be named, said these tests were conducted on him even though he was still in isolation.
Another Nigerian who is currently residing the UK but asked not to be named, expressed frustration over what he described as extortion of Africans by the UK government.
“You can imagine the frustrations of Nigerians visiting the UK. After taking two doses of vaccines in Nigeria, you are still made to pay for accommodation for isolation while you also pay for test.
“A friend of mine paid about 160 pounds sterling, an amount equivalent to about N120,000, just for testing,” the source said.
Students affected too
Meanwhile, some Nigerians who recently returned to the UK for education purposes reportedly experienced difficulties over the protocols.
Some of the returning students who had earlier received two shots of either Moderna or Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines said the protocols were ‘frustrating’.
In a briefing last week, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, said Nigerian officials “are in talks with the UK government”.
Mr Shuaib who was also reacting to the report of the new travel advisory said all the vaccines administered in Nigeria were recognised by the UK.
He clarified 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.
Mr 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.
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