BORIS Johnson has been accused of “travel apartheid” for slinging more African nations on the red list.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to London let rip after it became the latest victim of the Omicron clampdown.
Sarafa Tunji Isola said the variant was currently seen as “mild” and quite different from Delta, and urged ministers not to overreact.
He said: “The travel ban is apartheid in the sense that we’re not dealing with an endemic situation, we are dealing with a pandemic situation and what is expected is a global approach, not selective.”
He urged ministers to put in measures “based on scientific and empirical evidence” and not as “a kind of panicky situation.”
But the PM hit back — insisting that the measures are reasonable and proportionate after 21 UK cases of mutant Covid were found to have come from Nigeria.
Nigeria was added to the red list at 4am on Monday and arrivals must now spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel.
On a visit to Merseyside on Monday, Mr Johnson told reporters: “What we’re doing is responding to the pandemic.
“We were the first country in the world to take decisive measures to tackle Omicron.”
“We put about 10 countries automatically, immediately, on to the red list and we said that anybody coming from any country in the world would have to quarantine for a couple of days.
“We’re now going further and toughening those measures up as we see the spread of Omicron around the world.”
Ministers are waiting to see “exactly how dangerous” the new variant is, but right now the Government doesn’t believe it needs to change the “overall guidance and advice we’re giving about Omicron in this country”, he stressed.
It came as the Government admitted it was scrambling to get its hands on hundreds more hotel rooms to quarantine Brits returning home from red list nations.
After slamming a total of 11 nations on the new list, which was effectively ditched just weeks ago, the Department for Health are now rapidly stepping up their reserves and desperately trying to get more rooms on top of that.
Hundreds are feared to be trapped abroad in red list nations and unable to get home as they can’t board a flight without booking their rooms first — or risk thousands of pounds in fines.
The PM’s spokesperson said the reintroduction of the red list had been done “relatively swiftly”, adding: “They are standing up additional rooms, effectively, for quarantine hotels.”
Consular assistance was available for those who need it but “we are encouraging people to check back regularly as we add further hotels to the list so that they can book their stay”.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are rapidly expanding our hotel capacity following our immediate and precautionary action against the omicron variant.
“We have doubled the number of hotel rooms available from Monday and will continue to increase availability on a daily basis.”