Omicron, Travel Bans and Your Pocket
By Bashir Olanrewaju
For Shade Adebowale, everything seemed set for the trip to Canada. A British Airways ticket had been secured for the flight to Toronto on December 10, with a transit stop at London Heathrow Airport.
All that remained was for the remaining two weeks to roll by. So when the news first broke that a new variant of coronavirus had emerged in South Africa, she didn’t think much of it.
But when Canada announced days later it had found the strain in newly arrived Nigerian travellers with a record of South African travel, she woke up to full attention as she dreaded the inevitable hammer on travel from Nigeria. Of course, it descended within 24 hours, leaving her carefully made travel plans in disarray, with severe implications for her pocket.
To make matters worse, the U.K. also placed a travel ban on Nigerian and several southern African countries. Never mind that Omicron was first detected in the Netherlands and now we’ll installed in the rest of the world, what you should know as a traveller is that Africa is a favourite fall guy. And all bullies will flex their muscles.
The disruptions have also come at a bad time for the Nigerian diaspora, who tend to visit home en mass in the Christmas season. Many people desperate to make their trip are resorting to other, more expensive options, such as traveling through Ghana, Benin or Cameroon, spending an extra one thousand to four thousand dollars to arrive at their desired destinations.
As you make your travel plans in this season of Covid-19, try and keep the following tips in mind:
- Check the news daily because the situation is always changing, and a new development that might have an impact on your plans may have occurred overnight.
- When booking international tickets ensure that they offer free date changes, in case your plans change suddenly. Most airlines provide this because of the pandemic, so just make sure this is the case.
- Be sure what the testing and vaccination rules are for departing Nigeria, as prescribed by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, as well as for your destinations. The rules vary from country to country.
- Ensure that you do all the prescribed Covid-19 tests and obtain all required documentation. Before departure, ensure you know and meet all requirements for your destination country.
- Get vaccinated because, while some countries won’t let in the unvaccinated, most prescribe long and expensive quarantine for those who are yet to get the jabs.
Also be aware that Nigeria now has a revised international travel protocol, so that you know what to expect on arrival in the country. Below is the full text of the new rules that went into effect on December 5, 2021:
The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has reviewed the International Travel
Protocol of 22nd October 2021. This revised protocol is aimed at further reducing the risk
of importation and exportation of COVID-19, especially the variants of concern.
All passengers arriving in Nigeria are expected to provide evidence of and comply with
the following rules:
- COVID-19 PCR test to be done within 48hrs before departure
- Post-arrival Day 2 COVID-19 PCR test
- Self-isolation for 7 days (For unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals)
- Day 7 post-arrival exit PCR test (For unvaccinated and partially vaccinated
All out-bound Passengers are required to provide either of the following documentation:
- Valid evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19
- Negative PCR test result within 48hrs from the time boarding
The review of the protocol is based on science, national experience, and global
The PSC assures Nigerians, that it shall continue to monitor global and specific country
situations with a view to taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
The PSC calls on all Nigerians to ensure that they have taken their full dose of COVID-19
vaccinations and to continue to observe compliance to public health social measures.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation/
Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19