The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has described as unfair, the decision of the Canadian and United Kingdom governments to slam a travel ban on Nigeria due to discovered cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Naija News reports that the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, made this known in a statement on Tuesday.
Recall that the United Kingdom on Saturday banned all flights from Nigeria following the three cases of the Omicron Variant detected in the country.
This is coming after the Canadian government also imposed a travel ban on Nigeria after detecting the variant from travellers who landed in the country from Nigeria.
According to the governors, the action of the Canadian and British governments was biased and discriminatory, calling on the two foreign countries to immediately lift the ban.
The 36 governors added that Nigeria does not deserve the punishment despite detecting six cases of the variant in the country.
They, however, urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to resolve the impasse by setting uniform standards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the world.
The statement reads: “The NGF viewed the action by Canada and UK as precipitate, unfair and discriminatory. We urge the WHO to intervene in this matter by setting uniform standards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the globe.
“Omicron still remains relatively unknown globally as it is not yet clear whether it is more transmissible from person to person compared to other variants including Delta.
“It is very discouraging to note that there are several countries that have reported cases of Omicron similar to or higher than Nigeria’s, that have not been banned from entry to the UK and/Canada.
“Confirmed Omicron cases as of December 3rd, across some countries are: Nigeria (3 ); Australia (7); Brazil (3); Germany (9) Israel(4); Italy (9) and Netherlands(16). There is also no evidence that harsh, blanket travel bans will protect the countries that impose them.
“It is ironical that this ban comes at a time when the DG of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has advised that ‘rational proportional risk reduction measures’ be taken by countries such as screening passengers prior to departure and/or upon arrival in a country, or enforcing a quarantine period.
“As we know, vaccine hesitancy is quite high and for many reasons including disruptive announcements like this which could exacerbate distrust of the vaccine and heighten hesitancy.
“World leaders and stakeholders in the West need to remember that with the COVID-19 pandemic, until everyone is free, no one is free. Variants will continue to appear and spread across the globe as long as global herd immunity has not been achieved.
“We call on countries to be guided by science and fairness in setting the criteria for updating their red list. We encourage both public and private stakeholders to continue to support vaccination efforts and address hesitancy. We encourage Nigerians not to be discouraged and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“As a platform for the 36 democratically elected governors of the country, the NGF believes it reserves the right to speak for its people. Besides, the NGF was proactive and ahead in the Polio eradication program in Nigeria, in the country’s response to the Ebola virus, and lately in the response against the Coronavirus pandemic.”
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