The Archbishop’s appeal comes after Sarafa Tunji Isola, Nigeria’s high commissioner in London, said the decision to include Nigeria on the red list alongside 10 other African countries was “wrong”, “panicky”, unscientific and discriminatory.
He said Covid-19 was a global pandemic and not restricted to Nigeria or other African countries, claiming most of the 67 passengers who tested positive for the omicron variant on arrival in the country were from Britain.
“What is expected is a global approach, not a selective travel ban,” he said.
Mr Isola said it was on that basis that he “aligned” with the view of Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, that Britain’s decision amounted to “travel apartheid”.
Mr Guterres first used the term “travel apartheid” on Wednesday, telling reporters in New York that bans “are not only deeply unfair and punitive, they are ineffective”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that blanket travel bans will not stop the spread of variants, and can potentially discourage countries from reporting and sharing important data on coronavirus.
On Monday, the Most Rev Welby had previously criticised the addition of Nigeria, Botswana and South Africa to the red list, saying they are “countries already suffering that will suffer more”.
The Prime Minister is planning to decide by the end of next week whether further coronavirus restrictions are needed over Christmas.
The Department for Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.