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Quest Means Business

U.S. Diplomats To Boycott 2022 Beijing Olympics; Dow Climbs More Than 600 Points Amid Renewed Volatility; New U.S. Entry Rules Take Effect For International Travelers; New York City To Impose Private Sector Vaccine Mandate; Nigerian Diplomatic Calls U.K. COVID Rules "Travel Apartheid"; De Blasio: The More Universal Than Mandates, The Better They Work. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 15:00:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS HOST: It's a bumper day for U.S. stocks. The Dow is on track for its best day this year, up more than 600 points.

Those are the markets and these are the main events.

The United States freezes out China with a diplomatic boycott of Beijing's Winter Olympics.

African countries are calling it travel apartheid as the U.K. changes its entry rules. I'll speak to the Nigerian High Commissioner.

And New York businesses say they were blindsided by a sweeping new vaccine mandate.

Live from New York, it is Monday, December the 6th, I'm Alison Kosik, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening, the White House says no more business as usual. U.S. diplomats will be skipping next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing in

protest over China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang. While American athletes will still compete, the Biden administration says it would not be

quote, "contributing to the fanfare of the game" by sending its own officials to Beijing.

It deepens the controversy over how governments and companies are tackling China's alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. That's where Uyghur

Muslims are believed to be working in forced labor camps and it throws a new wrench into U.S.-China relations just weeks after the two countries'

leaders met in a virtual Summit.

A few minutes ago, the White House Press Secretary said the U.S. government could not stand by and treat this Olympic event like normal.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: U.S. diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of

the PRC's egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can't do that.

As the President has told President Xi, standing up for human rights is in the DNA of Americans. We have a fundamental commitment to promoting human

rights and we feel strongly in our position, and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.


KOSIK: Our White House reporter, Natasha Bertrand is in Washington and joins us live. Natasha, great to see you. You know, the first thing that

comes through my mind is how significant is it to boycott the Olympics, but still let, you know U.S. athletes participate? You know, what kind of

message is that us ultimately trying to send to China?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it depends on who you ask in terms of the severity of the message that it is going to send to

China, right? Some critics say that by not boycotting the Olympics fully as the U.S. last did in 1980, that it is still allowing U.S. athletes to go to

attend to participate in the fanfare of the Olympics, even though China is hosting them and has engaged in all these human rights violations and

abuses that the U.S. says that it stands against.

However, based on China's response here, which is that they plan to respond with countermeasures, and they are very angry about this message that the

U.S. is sending that they're not going to be sending diplomats, it seems to have made an impact, right?

So in terms of be sending high-level delegations to the Olympics; that is something that the U.S. has been doing for years now. Jill Biden, the First

Lady led a delegation to the Tokyo Olympics just this past summer and that is considered a sign of U.S. respect, right? It is considered a sign that

the U.S. is willing to participate in this event on the world stage.

And by shutting China out of that, and potentially by getting other U.S. allies to do the same, they have not confirmed that, but they have said

that they have been in conversations with U.S. allies about potentially engaging their own diplomatic boycotts, then they hope that this will send

a message to China that things are not business as usual, the U.S. is not ready to just forgive the human rights abuses that China has been engaged

in, just because they're having these Olympic Games.

KOSIK: Did the White House at all talk about whether or not this will, you know, move the needle, maybe even in the long run when it comes to China's

alleged human rights abuses? I mean, what China is focusing now on is potential retaliation, which really could be just about anything, right?

And so any concern from the White House that this is really ineffective -- an ineffective way to try to get China to see what the U.S. sees?

BERTRAND: Well, they don't see this as the end of their engagement with China on this issue, they see it as a very strong signal that they can send

at this moment. It is showing China that even though they are trying to cooperate on in different areas, they had that Summit with the President

last month, in which they did discuss areas of mutual cooperation. There are other areas where China is -- to put it lightly -- falling very short.

And of course, the Chinese do not seem like they're willing to budge on this And I don't think the United States expects the Chinese to necessarily

change their behavior wholesale overnight, but I think that by showing them that they cannot be, you know a normal kind of respected member of the

international community with legitimacy imposed by the United States on Beijing, then they hope that that will at least make China think that in

the future on these grand kind of, you know, Olympic Games, whatever it may be, that they will face consequences if their behavior does not change



BERTRAND: So no illusions here that this is going to have necessarily an immediate impact, but I think the calculation is that at least the United

States is portraying its values and projecting its expectations on the world stage, what they expect from China.

KOSIK: Okay, Natasha Bertrand, thanks so much for all of your great reporting.

And this move from the White House will renew the pressure on corporate sponsors to take a public position. These are the top corporate sponsors of

the Olympics. Thirteen official Olympic partners, including Coke, Visa, and Intel.

Last month, Human Rights Watch said they've been silent on how they're dealing with the issue. It's calling on these companies to explain how they

plan to address human rights issues in China.

Christine Brennan is CNN sports analyst and a columnist for "U.S.A. Today" and she is in Washington for us. Great to see you, Christine.


KOSIK: Let's talk about what Human Rights Watch is saying that these leading sponsors of you know, the Beijing Winter Olympics, they've remained

largely silent about these alleged human rights abuses in China, the Opening Games coming in under three months. How should companies handle

this situation? I mean, there's a lot of money at stake not to mention broadcast rights. China is a massive market, and on and on.

BRENNAN: If these massive companies, these corporate giants, if they put pressure on China, we might see the end of human rights violations in

China, I know that's a dramatic sentence. They are not going to put pressure on China. And we know that because we watched this happen -- this

is a rerun going into the 2022 Beijing Winter Games and it is a rerun of what happened in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The Games were given to Beijing in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 -- I wrote columns, and many others wrote columns. We talked until we were

blue in the face about human rights violations and abuses. It's horrible in China, absolutely horrible. It should not happen. And a gift, like the

Olympics should never be given to a country like that not once, but now twice within 14 years.

I talked to corporations, everyone talked about it, and the corporations did nothing and the International Olympic Committee did not even threaten

to move the Olympics, when they could have, when that would have been a very serious threat, Alison, say in 2004. You could have still moved the

Olympics to Sydney, Australia, or to Los Angeles or something, and then you might have really been able to hold China's feet to the fire on this. Nope,

didn't happen.

So, I'm a realist and I've covered this for a long time and I don't think since it didn't happen then. And of course, now we're just two months away

-- less than two months away to the Opening Ceremony, February 4th. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen now and that is a shame and the

history books will record it as such.

KOSIK: Is there something that could happen here at home where a lot of these companies have their headquarters, meaning in the U.S., could

criticism -- could there be repercussions at home to move these multinationals to take the right stand here? Or will they continue to stick

to sports?

BRENNAN: You know, one would hope, right? One would hope that these people would be paying attention to the news as we are and the stories and the

developing news, the Peng Shuai, the missing Chinese tennis player and all of the chaos and basically the debacle that that has been for China and the

International Olympic Committee over the last few weeks and the heroism, the great leadership of the WTA, Steve Simon, belongs on the Mount Rushmore

of sports. I mean, humanitarian and just a masterclass and leadership of a sports organization.

You'd think that maybe people would pay attention to that, but we haven't heard a word from some of those big companies. Why not? My guess is that

you know, what is it -- 1.4 or 1.5 billion people in China, they want a foothold in that market. They don't want to mess up the opportunity to sell

more Coca-Cola's to -- some Diet Cokes, whatever, to China -- and that's what this is about.

And that's why the WTA, as we've all followed the Peng Shuai story, that's why what the WTA did was just so remarkable. Someone finally did the right

thing, because throughout this whole thing, I've covered every second of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and now this, we have never seen anyone do

the right thing except the Women's Tennis Association. And maybe, maybe, that'll wake someone up.

But so far, it's been about a month and we haven't seen any movement from any of these corporations.

KOSIK: Only if the WTA could really influence even one company no inkling of that?


BRENNAN: No, at this point, I certainly haven't seen it, but they have set a standard for the ages. I really believe in terms of -- it's a #MeToo

story. It is the world's biggest #MeToo story, Alison, and it is a tragedy and it's awful and it's going to keep going. We're going to keep talking

about it now, as we go to the Olympics. There is no -- for sure, that story is not over by any means.

KOSIK: Okay, Christine Brennan, thanks for all that great context.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

KOSIK: As new travel rules come into effect around the world, a top Nigerian diplomat is calling the U.K.'s a policy, travel apartheid. He is

my guest, next.


KOSIK: The seesaw of pandemic stocks is tipping again as volatility reigns on Wall Street. The Dow is rallying up more than 600 points. The gains are

more muted on the S&P 500 and NASDAQ, but they are both solidly higher. Today's move follows last week's wild swings. This time it is travel stocks

that are soaring and vaccine makers posting steep losses.

The Big Three -- Delta, United, and American are seeing nearly 10 percent spikes. Meantime, Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are plunging. Moderna, down

almost 15 percent.

Matt Egan is live for us in New York. So, let's first talk about what we're seeing in the stock action specifically seeing these pharmaceutical

companies down so much. Why?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Alison, I think this is kind of giving back some of the gains that we've seen in the immediate aftermath of the omicron

kind of emerging on the scene, because when that happened, we saw people just flock to the vaccine companies.

On Black Friday, we actually saw Moderna was the best performer in the entire S&P 500, it was up 20 percent that day alone, and it kept going up,

and we saw people rotate out of travel stocks because they were really, really worried. And I think we're seeing a reversal of that now on the

thinking that some of those moves were a little bit overdone.

I do think that there is some less concern about omicron. I think that investors are sort of heartened by some of the anecdotal evidence that is

out there that suggests that maybe these are more mild cases, which of course, would be a relief from a public health standpoint, but also for

investors and for the economy when you think about what another variant could do to markets and to growth.

So, I think we're seeing a reversal. We're kind of seeing cooler heads come in here, but Alison, you know we still do need to learn more information,

more research on exactly what omicron means in terms of how effective vaccines are going to be, and how severe the symptoms are.


KOSIK: So since we are getting anecdotal evidence that omicron may -- I say that very strongly -- may have, you know, less severity than we

originally thought, what does that mean for the market? We saw these wild swings mostly lower last week. Now, we're seeing the green arrows. Are

those green arrows expected to stick, let's say even just throughout the short term?

EGAN: I don't know if they're going to even stick just throughout this session, because the markets have just been so volatile. I mean, it's been

this up and down roller coaster ever since Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States and that is because there is so much

uncertainty right now about the pandemic, but also about inflation. We're going to get what could be another pretty alarming consumer price inflation

report on Friday.

The Federal Reserve seems to have reversed its stance on inflation just being transitory, and they seem to be more acknowledging that this is going

to be a problem for some time, which raises a lot of questions about Fed policy. So there is so much uncertainty right now, and when investors have

a lot of questions about just the fundamental basics, we do see market volatility.

We'll see the market go way down one day and wake up the next day. On Friday, after the jobs report came out, the markets swung back and forth.

Initially, the markets fell in premarket action, then the markets were up, markets fell sharply because they were worried about concerns about the Fed

policy, and then they kind of erased those losses.

So I think we're going to see more of these swings until there's more certainty around the pandemic, around inflation, and the Fed policy.

KOSIK: So much to look forward to. Matt Egan, thanks so much.

The U.S. has started enforcing its new rules to enter the country. They are taking effect just as airports were getting used to the resumption of

overseas flights. Now, airport staff and passengers are facing the disruption of dealing with omicron.

Here is where things now stand. All international travelers must test negative for COVID within one day of departing for the U.S. The previous

timeline was three days. This shorter window applies to all travelers above the age of two, regardless of their nationality or vaccination status.

Importantly, one day does not necessarily mean 24 hours before takeoff, a test can be taken at any time of the day -- on the day before the flight

and of course, foreign travelers must still be fully vaccinated.

Pete Muntean is at Dulles Airport in Washington and he joins us now. Pete, I'm curious if you've had a chance to talk to travelers coming to the U.S.

What has been their reaction to these new rules?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, passengers tell us so far, so smooth. You know, these rules went into place 12:01 AM on Monday

on the East Coast, so about 15 hours ago for any flight departing after that time. So now, passengers coming into the U.S. need to get tested one

day before their flight.

The C.D.C. puts the example like this, if your flight is on a Monday, you need to get tested anytime on Sunday. So it's a one-day rule, not a 24-hour

rule. You need to show proof of that negative coronavirus test to your airline. This applies to foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, regardless of

vaccination status.

Airlines are really sort of pushing back against the whole idea of new travel restrictions. They are saying, it really doesn't do all that much to

contain the virus. The C.D.C. does say that it wanted a one-day rule rather than the previous three-day rule, because of these new concerns over the

new omicron variant and passengers here at Dulles, tell us so far, really no big deal.

Here is what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think it's that they've got all these variants that are coming out and that we don't know what they do. And that's why

it's -- that's why it's spreading because it's had an opportunity to do this. So, they're just being careful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter to me, honestly. I just -- I'm like, all right, cool. If that's what you need me to do, I'll do it. I'll

do what I need to do to travel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is less than its -- when it is one-day testing, because people they may have contact with people who are infected with

COVID and then to reduce the risk when it's one-day testing.


MUNTEAN: Another huge change here in the U.S. today, Federal transportation wide mask mandate. It was set to expire on January 18th, in

only a few weeks, now, it has been extended by two months. The new expiration date, March 18, 2022. That applies to all public forms of

transportation -- planes, trains, buses, boats, and also here in terminals -- Alison.

KOSIK: How are the numbers that you're seeing at the airport, let's say there where you are right now -- are you seeing travel numbers arise

despite these travel restrictions, making it a little bit you know, harder for people to actually travel?


MUNTEAN: Well, just yesterday, the T.S.A. screened about two million people at airports nationwide. It is a pretty good number considering that

we're out of the Thanksgiving travel period. There was a lot of thought that the reduction in restrictions for those who were fully vaccinated,

foreign nationals coming into the U.S. actually pumped up those numbers a little bit around the Thanksgiving travel period.

In fact, we saw a new pandemic era air travel record on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, two and a half million people passed through security at

America's airports. So there is some hope here by the airlines that foreign travel will come back. Although there is a lot of fear now with these new

restrictions that this could push people away, although clearly we're hearing from people that it's really no big problem for them.

KOSIK: Yes. Understood. All right, Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Travel restrictions are being tightened on both sides of the Atlantic. The U.K. says all passengers arriving in the country will now have to take a

COVID test within 48 hours of their flight, and more countries are being added to England's travel red list.

Anna Stewart has the latest.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The travel rulebook keeps on changing. Nigeria has been added to the U.K.'s red list. That brings it to a total of 10

Southern African nations, which only U.K. citizens can travel from. Now, you need to quarantine in a hotel facility now if you're coming back from

one of these countries for 10 days, and it costs around $3,000.00.

From tomorrow, there is additional testing requirements, anyone arriving into the U.K. will need to take a pre-departure test within two days before

arriving, 48 hours. It can be an antigen test or a PCR and it is regardless of vaccination status. There is also in addition to having to take a test

within two days of arriving into the U.K.

Now that before could have been a rapid antigen test. Now, that needs to be a PCR, which of course does bring up those costs, and that is why there are

concerns that it could deter some people from traveling and the travel and tourism industry is not happy.

There are calls for the U.K. government to give them more financial support given these new restrictions, either in the form of a furlough scheme

returning for the sector or additional financial support, or even paying for the mandatory tests.

Traveling during this pandemic is possible. It's totally doable. It's just the cost of the tests need to be taken into account. You need to be

organized to get them all booked in advance. And of course, you have to be flexible given the rules can change where you are and where you're trying

to get to.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


KOSIK: South Africa's President says early evidence suggests the omicron variant does not lead to an alarming increase in hospitalizations, although

hospitals are ramping up preparations for more admissions.

This, as cases have started to surge in a fourth wave. The South African Medical Research Council released a report on early experiences at the

hospital where omicron was first identified. It found that most patients who tested for COVID-19 had been hospitalized for other reasons. Most did

not need supplemental oxygen, few developed pneumonia or required high- level care.

The Council said it was a different picture from the beginning of the last three waves. Dr. Anthony Fauci said initial data from South Africa was an

encouraging signal.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Thus far, though it's too early to really make any definitive

statements about it. Thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it. But thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging

regarding the severity. But again, you've got to hold judgment until we get more experience.


KOSIK: Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. Elizabeth, great to see you. I'm curious to hear what you think are the takeaways from this new data from

the South African Medical Research Council.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison, this data is so interesting and South Africa has really done a great job at gathering

evidence on omicron, not just on the molecular level, but also on an epidemiological level, on a people level.

So, let's take a look at some more details of the data that you were just citing.

So what they found in South Africa -- and this is small, it's just 42 patients -- but that 70 percent were not dependent on oxygen. That's a

pretty good number. I think this number is even more important that when they look at COVID hospitalizations over the last two weeks, not all

omicron, but certainly, you know, a fair number that the length of stay in hospital for our COVID went down from 8.5 days before omicron down to just

2.8 days. That's a big difference.

That means that people who had COVID who were in the hospital, they got out a lot sooner. So, this just tells you a lot, Alison. If you remember when

we were talking about this when this news first broke about 10 days ago, the news was, wow, look at all these mutations. There's more than 30

mutations in this variant and that's important to know, but what you really want to know is how does it behave in people.

Now viruses, it actually behooves them not to get us super sick. It behooves them virus not to kill us because then they sort of are killing

themselves, right? If we die, they die.


COHEN: So maybe this virus is taking a different path and is highly transmissible, but perhaps not as virulent not likely to get us as sick. As

Dr. Fauci just said, we can't know anything for sure right now, these are certainly promising signs, but we have to keep watching -- Alison.

KOSIK: Right now in the U.S., we are seeing a spike in COVID cases. Talk with us more about where we are in this COVID battle as the U.S. implements

these new travel restrictions.

COHEN: So Alison, if you look back about say, two to three weeks ago in the United States, you had just a handful of states that were seeing

dramatic increases in COVID cases. You know, maybe about three states or so. Right now, you're seeing 30 states that have dramatic increases in

COVID cases, more than 50 percent from the previous week to this week. That's a lot.

That's a lot of red states, a lot of states with dramatic increases. That's not good. That is heading in the wrong direction.

Now, vaccinations are up. So that's good, because I think people are scared of omicron, but to see these case numbers go up right before the Christmas

Holiday, right when people are going to start to travel, right when people are going to start to gather together, right as the weather gets cold and

people are spending more time indoors. These are not great trends.

KOSIK: That's unfortunate. We will just keep wearing our mask and do the best we can, get our boosters.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

And we'll be back with more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment.


KOSIK: New York City's Mayor plans to enact a vaccine mandate on private businesses and to tighten the city's Vaccine Pass rules. Entering most

indoor places will soon require two shots instead of one, unless you've got the single dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

A Vaccine Pass will be required for children five and up beginning next week. The city will announce guidance on the private sector mandate,

December 15th.


It's expected to impact 184,000 businesses and goes into effect December 27th. No enforcement mechanism has been detailed yet. New York City Mayor

Bill de Blasio says vaccine mandates have to be universal to really work.


BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: The fact that this is universal. And this would be my advice to mayors, governors, CEOs all over the country.

Use these vaccine mandates. And the more universal they are, the more likely employees will say, OK, it's time. I'm going to do this. Because you

can't jump from one industry to another or one company to another. It's something that needs to be universal to protect all of us.


KOSIK: Kathryn Wylde is the president and CEO of the nonprofit partnership for New York City. Great to see you and have you on the show today.


KOSIK: I'm curious to hear how you first came to learn that all private sector employees in New York City will be required to implement a COVID-19

vaccine mandate by December 27th. How did you learn about it?

WYLDE: A call from the media early this morning.

KOSIK: Is that usual? Does that -- is that appropriate do you think?

WYLDE: I was very surprised and disappointed that there had been no conversation throughout COVID. The business community has had consultation

with state and city government before major new policies were put in place. But whatever the reason, that didn't happen this time.

KOSIK: Well, at a briefing today, the mayor, Mayor Bill de Blasio refuted the claim that he didn't reach out to businesses and he said there was a

lot of dialogue with the business community in advance. What do you think about that?

WYLDE: I suppose spoken to chambers of commerce and others in the business community. We represent the city's business, large businesses biggest

employers, none of us have heard anything up until hearing it through the media today.

KOSIK: And New York City has since said it's good to announce this enforcement guidance for the mandate. But that's not happening for more

than a week. Talk with me about how you think Mayor de Blasio is handling this mandate.

WYLDE: I think it's unfortunate when we're getting inconsistent policies from federal state and city government. The mayor announced this mandate

with no pre warning. And he indicated that unlike the mandate that President Biden announced in September, that this will cover both all

employers and it will provide no regular testing option for those who cannot get the vaccine. So, it really is a -- is a take it or leave it

policy which is not what employers want to be communicating to their people at this point in time.

The new variants have made this very uncertain health time. People are nervous, they're concerned. And it's -- our effort is to try and stimulate

getting people back to the office, stimulate recovery and encourage them to take vaccine. Certainly we think that's the right policy. But to make it an

all or nothing threat to employees is tough.

KOSIK: Do you think de Blasio has the legal ability to implement the vaccine rule for private entities? And do you know of any companies

considering a legal challenge to this requirement?

WYLDE: I don't know the answer to the question as to whether this is a legal directive. I know throughout the pandemic, the direction has come

from state government and from the CDC and pursuant to CDC guidelines. So it's surprising that all of a sudden, the city has the authority to issue

such a mandate. So I don't know the legal answer. I have heard that there are -- there is litigation planned by some political officials. And

unfortunately, this has turned the COVID into more of a political issue.

KOSIK: Yes. Which I'm wondering, do you think this is a de Blasio kind of his last salvo in an effort to make history before he goes out? You know,

we've got -- he is -- he's eyeing a -- to run for governor next year. And this could be some people say is a way to appeal to the state's more

liberal voters. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, he takes office in less than a month. And then you know, this mandate comes suddenly a month before he

takes office.

WYLDE: You have to look at the political motivation. I don't know what the reason is, but certainly, there's something behind this because it doesn't

make sense that we would have this kind of mandate coming out without any prior consultation. Without having clear regulations in place for how it's

going to be enforced. So, there has to be some reason. I don't know what it is.


KOSIK: OK. Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City. Thanks for coming on the show today.

WYLDE: Thanks for having me.

KOSIK: Returning to one of our top stories. Changes to England COVID travel red list of countries is causing an outcry specifically from Nigeria where

the country's high commissioner to London is calling it travel apartheid. Anyone coming to England from the countries on the map as you see there,

face tough restrictions once they arrive. This includes two negative PCR tests and 10 days quarantine in a COVID hotel at the travelers expense,

roughly $3000 U.S.

So far, the U.K. says it has linked 21 Omicron cases in England. 21 Omicron in England to travel from Nigeria. The Nigerian High Commissioner to London

Sarafa Tunji Isola joins us now. Grateful for your time.


KOSIK: I want to hear how you view the U.K.'s Omicron travel band and putting Nigeria on this travel red list. Is it discriminatory?

ISOLA: Yes, absolutely. Nigeria aligns with the position of the U.N. Secretary General on this issue. And the position of the U.S. Secretary

General is what he described as travel appetite. Appetite in the sense that the issue of Omicron as of today, there are only three cases captured in

Nigeria. The last -- during the last week of November, precisely between 22nd of November and 28th of November, 67 people.

Try to realize that, tested positive for COVID in Nigeria, mostly from U.K. And Nigeria did not on account of that find it necessary to place a travel

ban on people from the United Kingdom. So I mean, the -- under normal circumstances, this variant has been discovered in South Africa, which is

salutes the efforts of South African Medical Association or a lot in the world to the Omicron variant.

And that the next thing is should be for scientists all over the world to get into it to be able to determine the various features of the -- of the

variant. I must say that such a day, South Africa did confirm that this variant does not involve any hospitalization. Neither does involve any

death. So the issue of slamming bans on account of a migrant is not the right thing to do.

KOSIK: Only about 3.7 million of Nigeria's 206 million people have been fully vaccinated. That could be some of the concerns. So talk with me about

why there's such a low vaccination rate for COVID-19. And what efforts are being made to get people vaccinated?

ISOLA: Well, the efforts there has been largely due to the availability of vaccines. Like, you know, African -- Africa has not been able to take its

deal about vaccines. And the U.N. Secretary General also alluded to the fact that it's not non-vaccination of Africans it's not due to their fault.

But perhaps it's important to say that it's not an African disease was brought to Africa and our leaders have done all within - I mean, their

power to ensure that vaccines are brought to Africa.

But production of vaccines now is such that what comes to Africa is limited but I must say that even during the first and second wave, the process was

well managed in Nigeria and then we didn't have cause to go on the red list. So that's why the -- that's why had outreach in Nigeria now.

KOSIK: I want to know if you have a message to the U.K. minister for policing Kit Malthouse who said that the phrase travel apartheid was very

unfortunate language. What's your message?

ISOLA: Yes. It's a message of - it's a message by the U.N. Secretary General. Nigeria only aligns with our message. So if it unfortunately, I

think it's been -- it should be directed to the U.N. Secretary General. But it was not a Nigerian language. Nigeria only aligned with our language

because it's aptly described institution.

KOSIK: OK. Thanks for your time today, Sarafa Tunji Isola. Nigerian High Commissioner to London. Great talking with you.

ISOLA: Thank you.

KOSIK: And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'll be back at the top of the hour as we make a dash for the closing bell. Up next, Africa Avant Garde.