NIGERIA’S high commission to the UK is to re-open on Monday August 23 following a 10-day shutdown after two if its staff tested positive for coronavirus during a mass testing of all employees who work in the building last week.
In a major setback for the mission just as it was getting on top of the passport situation, it had to close down in Thursday August 12 after a hiccup when two of its members of staff were found to be Covid-19 positive. Following the shutdown, an antiviral sanitisation of the premises was carried out on Monday August 16 and the building is now set to re-open.
Under the new regime, members of staff who have received two doses of the vaccine will no longer be legally obliged to self-isolate if they have come in contact with anyone who is Covid-19 positive. This is in line with UK health guidelines but any such person is advised to take a PCR test to ascertain their status.
High commissioner Ambassador Sarafa Ishola has also asked all staff and officers at the mission to take lateral flow tests twice a week. In addition, he has made the use of face masks mandatory in all enclosed spaces to check the spread of the virus and avoid the need for another shutdown.
Ayo Akinfe, the chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk), said: “As the community umbrella body representing the community, we are glad that the high commission is re-opening. This is the busy summer period when everyone wants to travel, so a sustained shutdown would have led to the creation of a backlog but 10 days should not present any problems.
Olajumoke Ariyo, Canuk’s first vice chairperson and the chair of its passport liaison committee, added that the demand for travel documents is very high at the moment as many people who have not been to Nigeria in over two years as a result of the lockdown are rushing to renew their passports. She added that with the mission now open, the issuance of passports can resume as normal, which is a good thing.