Travel News

15,049 Nigerian nurses move to UK in five years - PUNCH

DECEMBER 29, 2021

BY  Deborah Tolu-Kolawole

No fewer than 15,049 nurses trained in Nigeria obtained licence to practise in the United Kingdom within a period of five years spanning from March 2017 to March 2021, The PUNCH has learnt.

This was disclosed in a report obtained from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK on Tuesday in Abuja.

Our correspondent observed that Nigeria is the third highest country with foreign nurses in England coming after the Philippines and India.

The NMC is the UK body responsible for the registration of professionals eligible to practise in the UK. The body also investigates concerns about nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

In the report, the NMC said, “The number of people on the permanent register in England who trained outside the European Economic Area continues to grow. As of March 2017, the body stated that 2,670 Nigerian nurses registered on the register. In March 2018, the body noted that 2,678 registered between March 2017 and March 2018.

“March 2019 saw a record of 2,771 while the number of nurses who registered between March 2019 and March 2020 increased to 3,205. Within this period, the body noted that it opened a temporary COVID-19 register to accommodate nurses willing to practise.”

Alhough the body did not state the number of Nigerian nurses on the temporary COVID-19 register, it stated that between March 2020 and March 2021, a total of 3,725 Nigerian nurses registered and were granted licenses.

The PUNCH reports that on the list, Nigeria comes third in the list of foreign countries with nurses practicing in the UK coming after The Philippines and India.

The PUNCH reports that the Nigerian health sector is currently facing challenges in the area of brain drain as medical doctors and other health workers have continued to migrate over the years due to what experts tagged as “unfavorable” working conditions.

Human Trafficking Soars As Nigerians Seek Greener Pastures In West African Countries - LEADERSHIP

DECEMBER 29, 2021

Nigerian teenagers are being trafficked to neighbouring countries like Ghana, Cameroon etc , all in the name of seeking greener pastures, stakeholders revealed, as they call for more awareness at grassroots level to curb the menace.

Recently, the media was awash with story of three teenagers from Akaeze community, Ivo local government area of Ebonyi State, who were trafficked to Ghana for prostitution.

These teenagers are among over 75 per cent of trafficking victims detected in West Africa, as revealed by a joint report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).

Most of these teenagers and their parents believe that poverty prevails in Nigeria as such going abroad is the right thing to do, Lagos State director, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Waheed Ishola tells me.

These traffickers tell all kinds of lies, to deceive parents of teenage girls, says Ishola, adding, “They make their parents believe that once their children leave Nigeria, they are going to get an automatic job and live a better life. Many parents have fallen prey to their lies.

“Some of them had to sell their properties to provide the transportation fares for their children, not knowing that they will end up as prostitutes,” he said.

To stop the menace, the director advocated that sensitisation, awareness programmes is the way to go.

He disclosed that in Lagos State, the state government partnered with NAPTIP to create awareness on human trafficking. “We have also embarked on community outreach programmes, especially in communities where this act is prevalent. We educate parents on dangers of human trafficking and how to protect their children from being victims.”

At national level, while the government of Nigeria does not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the 2021 trafficking in Persons report – Nigeria, revealed that it is making significant efforts to do so.

He however, added that government demonstrated overall, increasing efforts compared to previous reporting period, considering the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Nigeria was upgraded to Tier 2.

For instance, the federal government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, collaborated with NAPTIP to tackle human trafficking, prostitution and child labour in the country.

According to the minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, “Women and children are the worse hit in the area of human trafficking, hence the promulgation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and the Child Rights Act.

“If NAPTIP and the ministry work together, both organisations would be in a better position to checkmate incidences of women trafficking, prostitution and child labour.”

The collaboration paved way in that, in 2021, federal and state authorities investigated 409 cases, prosecuted 49 suspects, and convicted 36 traffickers in 2021. NAPTIP reported opening 381 new investigations (243 sex trafficking, 138 forced labour) and initiating prosecutions against 40 suspects (36 sex trafficking, four forced labour).

Delta Airlines halts flights to Shanghai over new COVID-19 rules - PUNCH

DECEMBER 29, 2021

Delta Air Lines turned back a flight from Seattle to Shanghai, which was already halfway to China, after new pandemic-related cleaning rules at Shanghai Pudong International Airport forced the US carrier to abruptly halt service to one of two major airports in Shanghai that handles mostly international flights.

That recent midair reversal reportedly left quite a few Delta Air Lines‘ passengers stranded with expiring COVID-19 tests and visas.

The new Shanghai Pudong International Airport‘s mandates “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” the airline said in a statement.

The second-largest US air carrier didn’t elaborate on what the rule changes were or why it was necessary to call back a flight that had already been in the air for about six hours.

As of now, Delta Air Lines has canceled its Seattle-Shanghai flights through at least Thursday.

The aborted flight was reportedly entering Russian airspace last week when it made a U-turn and headed back towards Seattle. It was due to land in Seoul for a crew change before continuing on to Shanghai.

While a Delta spokesperson said the rule change was made after the flight left Seattle, Chinese media outlets report that Shanghai Pudong officials denied any recent change to entry requirements.

Without naming Delta Air Lines, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco said on Tuesday that many US flights to China had been delayed or canceled in recent days and claimed it lodged a complaint with the carrier that called back a flight midway.

Taiwanese airline EVA Air has suspended flights from Kaohsiung and Taipei to Shanghai Pudong Airport until February 3, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

EVA Air cited new requirements for disinfecting inbound planes more thoroughly, which it said were implemented on Friday.

The new rules would cause return flights to Taiwan to be delayed by up to five hours, an EVA official said.

China has significantly tightened travel restrictions in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on February 4.

China’s Plane-Cleaning Rule Spurs U.S. Talks After Aborted Trip - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 29, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Talks are underway between the U.S. and China on possible changes to the Chinese government’s new aircraft-cleaning requirements that prompted a Delta Air Lines Inc. flight to turn back to Seattle and that could trigger the cancellation of some flights to the Asian nation. 

The discussions were confirmed Tuesday by a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The new sanitation mandates -- spurred by the spread of Covid-19 -- significantly extend the time planes are on the ground and largely copy steps that U.S. airlines already take to clean between flights, representatives for the industry said. There also is a shortage of available workers to carry out the added steps, they said. 

The new requirements are part of the changes that countries and industries are making to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious omicron coronavirus variant. 

China has been stepping up border restrictions because of delta variant outbreaks and detection of the new strain among foreign travelers ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early February. Hong Kong will mandate a three-day hotel quarantine for air-cargo crews to thwart transmission of omicron. 

The U.S. is seeking changes to the new Chinese cleaning mandates, since rigorous disinfecting procedures already are performed between flights by carriers globally, the State Department official said. Airlines implemented extensive onboard cleaning protocols early in the pandemic.  

Delta’s service to China “remains very fluid” as it evaluates the change in procedures that caused it to turn around a Dec. 21 flight to Shanghai, returning the plane to where it took off in Seattle. The carrier is assessing its twice-weekly trips from Detroit and Seattle to Shanghai on a flight-by-flight basis, a spokesman said Tuesday.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it is working to comply with the mandate that was put in place last week and hasn’t canceled any of its four weekly flights between San Francisco and Shanghai. American Airlines Group Inc.’s twice-weekly flight between Dallas-Fort Worth and Shanghai also is affected, the carrier said,f without providing further details.

Airlines for America, the lobbying group for major U.S. carriers, declined to comment. The new rules apply to any airline flying into China.

U.S. carriers flying from the states stop first in another city, like Incheon or Seoul, South Korea, and change crews before going on to China. The procedure ensures that flight crews don’t surpass the legal number of hours they can work and allows them to avoid an overnight stay that could trigger additional Covid protocol requirements for the aircraft or crew, airline representatives said. 

Delta’s Flight 287 returned to Seattle after the carrier learned of the change in cleaning requirements midflight, the Atlanta-based carrier has said. In addition to the time required, the new procedures “are not operationally viable,” Delta said. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what sanitation procedures authorities in China recently put in place. A spokesman for Shanghai’s airport declined to comment earlier. A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Administration of China referred to a Covid control protocol issued in September.

U.K. House Prices Finish Year With Strongest Growth Since 2006 - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) --

U.K. house prices rounded off their strongest year since 2006 with a bigger-than-expected increase in December and buyers shrugging off concerns about growing coronavirus infections.

The average price of a home rose 1% to 254,822 pounds ($334,090) this month, which is typically one of the quietest of the year, Nationwide Building Society said Thursday. That was double the pace expected by economists. The annual rate of growth climbed to 10.4%, the fastest in 15 years.

Buyers weary of lockdowns during the pandemic are snapping up more spacious properties outside urban areas with room to work from home. That trend is likely to get tested in 2022 as rising borrowing costs, stretched affordability and pinched household finances restrain the ability of consumers to keep paying more.

“It appears likely that the housing market will slow next year,” said Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide. “Even if wider economic conditions remain resilient, higher interest rates are likely to exert a cooling influence. Affordability is already less favorable than before the pandemic struck.”

  • Wales showed the strongest growth of any region, grew, the first time it topped the survey since Nationwide started collecting data in 1973
  • London was the weakest performer with a 4.2% increase, the only U.K. region to see slower growth in 2021 than the year before
  • The South West had the strongest gains in England with 11.5% annual growth, the most for that region since 2004

What Our Economists Say ...

“The U.K.’s housing boom continues, but it’s set to cool in 2022 as interest rates edge higher and household incomes are squeezed. Still, prices are likely to be underpinned by high demand for more spacious homes and limited supply.”

--Niraj Shah, Bloomberg Economics. Click for the full REACT.

Tourists are Flocking Back to the Dominican Republic - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- The Dominican Republic is on track to receive close to 5 million visitors this year, cementing a recovery for the Caribbean’s top tourist destination despite the threat of the omicron variant, Deputy Minister of Tourism Jacqueline Mora said.

In a telephone interview, Mora said tourism was rebounding sharply from the pandemic lows of last year, and that monthly arrivals from September through November were breaking records. 

Last month the Caribbean nation received 519,349 visitors, a rise of 197% versus November 2020 and 12% versus 2019.

Even so, overall arrivals this year will be about 23% shy of the 6.4 million travelers seen in 2019.

Read More: Dominican Republic Central Bank Sees GDP Growth of 11% in 2021

Tourism represents 8.4% of the country’s economy, according to the central bank, although the Ministry of Tourism says the sector’s true impact is closer to 30%, once ancillary services are factored in.

In 2019, tourism represented $7.4 billion in revenue for the Dominican Republic -- more than any other nation in Central America or the Caribbean.

After the 2020 pandemic induced a plunge in output, the central bank expects the economy to grow 11% in 2021, while the International Monetary Fund sees growth of 9.5% followed by expansions of 5.5% and 5% in 2022 and 2023.

The country’s bonds due in 2032, sold last September amid empty beaches, have recovered to trade at 101.54 cents on the dollar.

Open But Vigilant

While much of the region barred international travelers during the pandemic, the Dominican Republic kept its borders open, instead focusing efforts on rolling out vaccines, particularly in tourism hot spots and among hospitality workers.

In addition, through April 2021, the country provided free health and travel insurance to tourists -- shielding visitors from additional lodging bills if they got ill. 

“The combination of flexibility at the border but lots of controls at the hotels worked for us,” Mora said. “Tourists really liked that.”

In December, S&P Global cited the booming tourism industry for the country’s “impressive economic recovery.”

Even so, Mora said new Covid restrictions in places like Canada and Europe to fight the omicron variant could damp travel in the first few months of the year, even as the ministry estimates to close 2022 with 6.6 million visitors.

“We still don’t know what this new wave of infections will look like,” she said, “but January could be challenging.”

Read More: Amid Pandemic, Puerto Rican Tourism Manages a Banner Year

Australia Eases Isolation Rules to Manage Surging Omicron Cases - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 30, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Most of Australia will relax isolation rules for close contacts of coronavirus cases and recognize the results of rapid antigen tests in the face of surging omicron infections.  

Five of the country’s eight states and territories will from Friday allow close household contacts of confirmed cases to isolate for seven days, and then leave after receiving a negative rapid antigen test, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra. 

“With omicron, we cannot have hundreds of thousands of Australians, or more, taken out of circulation based on rules that were set for the delta variant,” Morrison said. “What we’re dealing with is a different variant that has a high volume with lower severity illness.”

Previously, most Australian states would only accept the results of the more-reliable PCR tests -- short for polymerase chain reaction -- instead of rapid antigen tests. Close contacts of confirmed cases were required to isolate for as long as two weeks.

The move is similar to those in nations such as the U.S. and Italy, which are also easing restrictions to keep essential services running and take pressure off health systems. The state of Tasmania will implement the changes Jan. 1, while Western Australia and the Northern Territory are considering the proposals.

New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, on Thursday reported a record 12,226 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, and hospitalizations reached the highest level since mid-October. Victoria state recorded 5,137 new infections. 

Nigerians In Italy Laud Federal Govt For Responding To Passport Demand - LEADERSHIP

DECEMBER 30, 2021

The National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy (NUNAI) has lauded the Federal Government of Nigeria for promptly responding to its appeal for the supply of passport booklets to the Embassy in Italy.

NUNAI disclosed this in a video interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, which refuted recent media reports that over one million, five hundred thousand Nigerians were yet to be issued their passports.

Secretary of NUNAI, Frank David, who described the report as a fallacy, said the total number of Nigerians in Italy is not up to a million.

David noted that it was impossible for over one million Nigerians supposedly living in Italy to be stranded for lack of passport.


He noted that currently, there are 209,000 Nigerians in Italy, 180,000 are legally documented with 29,000 yet to be documented.

He said that as much as NUNAI, the umbrella body of all Nigerian Associations in Italy will continue to appeal to the Federal Government for regular supply of booklets, they also appreciate the intervention so far.

“The publication by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) which claims that 1.5 million Nigerians in Italy are in need of passport booklets in Italy is a fallacy and we debunk such claims.

“The population of Nigerians in Italy is not up to one million. And on the issue of passport, yes are requests for people who need to renew their passport of get fresh passports.

“But the mission has captured thousands of Nigerians who are having issues with passport in the past months and that is a great deal.

“There was an intervention about three months ago, especially in my own city, Modena we were able to capture about 250 people, we went to another city called Pesaro and we were able to capture 138 people.

“We went to another city which I supervised and they were able to capture over 170 people. So if you sum all these figures up you will get about a thousand.

“Be that as it may, there are other cities that need to be covered and that is not to say that they are up to a million. I stand to debunk that any day, any time.

“NUNAI as it were is the umbrella body of all Associations in Italy which NIDO should be part of, and NUNAI has been working with Embassies long before the existence of NIDO in Italy.

“I wouldn’t want to speak more in favor or in criticism of NIDO because I do not know their modus of operandi and how they got their information.

“NUNAI has been in the forefront of issues that concerns Nigerians in Italy, in terms of welfare, in term of documentation, we have been working assiduously is collaboration with Embassies,” David said.

For his part, the Welfare Officer of NUNAI, Frank David, also appreciated the Federal Government, the Nigerian Ambassador to Italy, Mfawa Abam, and the Immigration Attache to the Mission for their swift response.

He said that Amb. Abam and the immigration attaché to the mission have been working tirelessly to ensure the challenges of scarcity of passports was solved to ameliorate the plight of Nigerians living in Italy.

“We are all aware of the challenges the Nigeria Immigration service is experiencing, which is not only affecting Nigerians in Italy but even those living in Abuja.

“The supply of booklets to Italy is not regular but there are cases where the Embassy gets 1,000, gets 500, gets 2,000.

“After we have made a passionate appeal to the two Ministers, the Comptroller General of immigration last month, we have started getting supply.

“Before the Christmas we got supply of about 1,500 because I work closely with the immigration and they promised to give us more, they are talking of giving us 10,000 booklets to clear the backlog.

“There is an improvement, and the immigration and the Nigerian mission is working but more need to be done because Nigerians have to renew their passports and get new ones,” he said.

British Airways Scraps Hong Kong Flights Until March on Virus - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 31, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- British Airways has scrapped flights to Hong Kong until March as the territory further tightens aircrew quarantine restrictions to contain the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant. 

The earliest available flights from London to Hong Kong are from March 1, according to a search on the carrier’s website. The carrier had previously temporarily suspended services to Hong Kong at the end of November after one employee tested positive for Covid-19 and staff were sent into quarantine. 

On Wednesday, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways said it will make “significant” changes to its flight schedule from now through the first quarter of 2022, and only operate a skeletal service in January. 

“Like other airlines, due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule,” a spokesman for BA said. “We apologize to customers whose travel plans are disrupted.”

The nascent recovery of international air travel has been frustrated over the usually busy Christmas holiday season as countries across the world rapidly bring back travel restrictions and quarantine measures to contain the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Global Covid-19 infections rose by a record 1.73 million on Wednesday, the third consecutive day the world has recorded more than a million new cases in 24 hours.

On Thursday, Germany added Italy, Canada and Malta to its high-risk list, meaning travelers from those countries need to quarantine for 10 days unless they’re vaccinated, recovered or can present a negative test five days after arrival. 

Airlines Ask FCC to Delay 5G Wireless Rollout in Emergency Bid - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 31, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- The top airlines trade group filed an emergency request with the Federal Communications Commission Thursday asking for a delay in the rollout of new 5G wireless service near airports that it says threatens to disrupt flights.

Airlines for America, which represents the 10 major U.S. passenger and cargo airlines, said more time is needed to resolve the dispute. It’s calling on the regulatory agency to delay use of airwaves near dozens of international airports, including Newark Liberty in New Jersey, John F. Kennedy in New York and George Bush Airport in Houston.

The FCC had awarded wireless network providers AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. access to new spectrum, called C-Band, with plans for new 5G service to begin Jan. 5. The airline group said the agency “has never provided a reasoned analysis of why it has rejected the evidence submitted by the aviation interests.”

An FCC spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Airlines and other aviation-industry groups have been warning that there could be significant flight disruptions if the 5G airwaves were expanded, saying they could interfere with aircraft equipment. So-called radar altimeters, which beam radio waves at the ground to determine a plane’s altitude, use frequencies that are close to those to be used by the new 5G service. 

The Federal Aviation Administration on Dec. 23 issued a Safety Alert for Operators warning that “a wide range” of aircraft safety devices could malfunction and laid out the process it will follow to issue specific restrictions on flights if needed. 

The wireless companies said they would roll out the 5G service at temporarily reduced power in the coming months to alleviate fears, but airline groups say the offer isn’t enough. CTIA, a trade group representing the wireless industry, said that active 5G networks using the same spectrum band work safely in almost 40 countries.

“Despite these meritless claims, the wireless industry continues to collaborate in good faith with the aviation industry, the FAA and the FCC, and remains confident that a positive resolution can be reached,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.


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