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Nigeria eyes diplomacy to resolve Omicron travel restrictions

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Image Credits: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo, International Maritime Organization.

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.

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation

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.

“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.

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