Is Canada’s travel ban on Nigeria in self defense or show of discrimination?

Canada travel ban Nigeria

Canada has sent a shock treatment to travelers and immigrants from Nigeria by imposing a travel ban on Nigeria and two more African countries, as the new Covid variant continues to spread.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said foreign nationals from Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt who have been to those countries over the past two weeks will not be able to enter Canada.

This adds to the seven other African countries barred by Canada on Friday: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Canadians and permanent residents, as well as all those who have the right to return to Canada, who have transited through these countries over the past two weeks, will have to quarantine, be tested at the airport, and await their test results before exiting quarantine, Duclos said.

The border measures will enable Canada more time to better understand the new variant in terms of its transmissibility, severity of illness and impact on vaccine efficiency, said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer.

The National Airlines Council of Canada said it will move rapidly to implement the new measures announced by the federal government, but expressed concern over the economic uncertainty facing the aviation sector as a result of the new variant.

Is the ban on Nigeria discriminatory? 

Canada travel ban Nigeria

As of Tuesday, Canada had confirmed seven cases of the Omicron variant: four in Ontario and one each in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. Three Nigerians are on the list.

Given the low vaccination rate in Nigeria, poor safety protocol, inadequate emergency response and overall state of the health care system, Nigeria is increasingly being considered a high-risk country.

Some health experts argue that the low number of reported cases in Nigeria is not because it has properly dealt with Covid, but rather because of the flawed reporting structure and the unavailability of reliable statistics.

Many Nigerians have however described the travel ban imposed by Canada as unjustifiable.

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM) has condemned the action by the Canadian Government as “unfair and discriminatory”

Since the new covid variant didn’t originate from Nigeria, many travelers and immigrants  spoken to are shocked at the  Canadian move. One Community engagement expert pointed out that “singling out Nigeria is political and most inappropriate. One of the covid affected persons had transited in Hong Kong. Why wasn’t it also banned?”((Global))

Ayo Owodunni, a Diversify, Equity and Inclusion consultant as well as the podcast presenter of the Immigrant View noted: “A nation trying to protect her citizens and economy is perfectly understandable. However, the world is a global village. We are so interdependent. I suggest movements between nations are reduced and strongly watched for now but I do not support an outright travel ban.”

“Owambe” parties in Nigeria. 

Canada bans Nigerians

Meanwhile, parties and large gatherings have returned fully in Nigeria. Weddings, launch events and the famous “Owambe” parties are now happening in Lagos and all over Nigeria.

In most of the large gatherings, social distancing, mask-wearing, temperature checks are out of the question.

For the Nigerian socialites and party goers, the show must go on. Covid is another story.

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