The United Kingdom on Saturday night announced the imposition of a travel restriction on citizens of Nigeria following an increase in the number of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across the world.

This was disclosed by the UK’s Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid, via his official Twitter account.

This is as analysis of data obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control revealed a 76 per cent spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases across the country.

Sunday PUNCH reports that the UK is the third country to impose a travel ban on Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Javid stated that the UK and Irish citizens who will be travelling from Nigeria would be allowed into the country after quarantining for a certain period.

He tweeted, “In light of the most recent data, we are taking further action to slow the incursion of the Omicron variant. From 4am on Monday, only UK/Irish citizens and residents travelling from Nigeria will be allowed entry and must isolate in a managed quarantine facility.

“And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the Red List will be required to take a pre-departure test, regardless of their vaccination status.

“Vaccines remain our first line of defence— the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Please get vaccinated or #GetBoosted as soon as you can.”

Recall that last week, Indonesia, slammed a travel ban on Nigeria following the discovery of the new strain of the virus.

The PUNCH also reported that Canada had placed Nigeria on a travel ban following the discovery of two cases of the Omicron variant which were linked to travellers from Nigeria.

The NCDC, on Wednesday, had announced the presence of the new variant in Nigeria.

According to the Director General of the centre, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the cases were identified through the genomics sequencing of positive cases from travellers linked to South Africa.

Meanwhile, virology experts such as the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Professor Oyewale Tomori, have warned on looming travel bans on Nigeria.

Analysis of the COVID-19 daily updates obtained from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has revealed that infection rates increased by 76 per cent in 24 hours.

On December 2, 2021, a total of 47 cases were reported across eight states of the Federation namely Plateau with 16 cases, Abuja with eight cases, Gombe with four cases, Kaduna with four, Edo with three, Kano with three, and Bauch with one, though no fatality was reported.

However, on December 3, the NCDC noted that a total of 196 cases were reported 24 hours later, representing a 76 per cent increase.

It noted that Lagos led with 138 cases, Rivers followed with 23 cases, Abuja with 18 cases, Imo with 15 cases, while Bauchi and Gombe had one case each.

The centre also noted that two deaths were reported.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund has allayed fears over the roll out of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Nigeria.

Sunday PUNCH reports that countries such as Canada, Denmark, United States of America and Slovenia had suspended the roll out of the vaccine, following incidences of blood clots.

Nigeria has so far received 4,567,200 doses of the J and J vaccine through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and Mastercard Foundation.

Even though the Federal Government is yet to deploy the vaccines, it noted that the doses would be deployed in security compromised, hard to reach and rural areas.

In an interview with our correspondent, the Country Health Manager for UNICEF, Asnakew Tsega, stated that the vaccines were safe for use.

He said, “Yes, the vaccine is safe. Countries such as Nigeria follow the recommendation of the World Health Organisation and the approval of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration. J and J has a WHO emergency listing and that is why Nigeria is receiving the vaccine.

“Countries may have reasons for suspending vaccines or drugs when they have found or suspected something in certain batches. The question could also be directed to NAFDAC.”

However, all efforts to get the reaction of NAFDAC’s spokesperson, Abubakar Jimoh, proved abortive as he failed to respond to inquiries sent to his phone, despite giving our correspondent the directive to do so.