United Kingdom has placed Nigeria on its “red list”, adding a pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for all in-bound travellers and arrivals from the country.

The announcement came on Saturday by Health Secretary Sajid Javid who said the tightened requirements would come into force from 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, adding that Nigeria “is second only to South Africa for cases linked to Omicron”.

“From 5 December 2021, all out-bound passengers are required to provide either valid evidence of full vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of departure,” the British government’s website said.

The pre-departure tests – to be taken a maximum of 48 hours before departure time – will be required from 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, and will apply to all travellers arriving in the UK.

Nigeria joins the expanding list of African countries, except those in North Africa, which have been placed on red lists as high-risk countries.

Countries like South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini have had travel bans instituted against them since the Omicron variant was identified in South Africa. 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)  confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant on December 1, saying that both cases were found through genomic sequencing, linking the cases to two passengers from South Africa.

Also, some travellers from Nigeria tested positive for the Omicron variant in Canada. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that the Omicron variant, now detected in 38 countries, appears to be more contagious than the COVID-19 Delta variant.