Home NewsAfrica Hong Kong bans flights from 8 countries, tightens Covid-19 curbs | News24

Hong Kong bans flights from 8 countries, tightens Covid-19 curbs | News24

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Protesters walk on a highway near Hong Kong's international airport following a protest against the police brutality and the controversial extradition bill on August 12, 2019. - Hong Kong airport authorities cancelled all remaining departing and arriving flights at the major travel hub on August 12, after thousands of protesters entered the arrivals hall to stage a demonstration. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP)

Protesters stroll on a freeway close to Hong Kong’s worldwide airport following a protest towards the police brutality and the controversial extradition invoice on August 12, 2019. – Hong Kong airport authorities cancelled all remaining departing and arriving flights on the main journey hub on August 12, after 1000’s of protesters entered the arrivals corridor to stage an illustration. (Photograph by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP)

  • Incoming flights from international locations together with the UK and United States are banned from 8 – 21 January. 
  • From Friday, a number of public areas shall be closed and indoor eating banned. 
  • Hong Kong’s chief government mentioned China’s  Particular Administrative Area was on the verge of a fifth wave. 

Hong Kong has introduced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight international locations and tightened coronavirus restrictions after detecting instances of the Omicron variant.

Carrie Lam, the chief government of Hong Kong, advised reporters on Wednesday that incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK and the USA, together with interchanges, could be banned from January 8 to January 21.

The federal government will ban indoor eating after 6pm from Friday, she mentioned, and shut swimming swimming pools, sports activities centres, bars and golf equipment, museums and different venues for at the least two weeks.

All cruises have additionally been cancelled, she mentioned. Earlier on Wednesday, a ship carrying 3 700 passengers and crew was ordered to chop quick its “cruise to nowhere” and return to port for mass testing after 9 individuals have been traced as shut contacts of an Omicron case.

“We’re but to see a fifth wave but, however we’re on the verge,” mentioned Lam.

Like mainland China, Hong Kong has pursued a zero-Covid-19 technique and maintained a number of the world’s harshest measures all through the pandemic, together with just about closed borders, weeks-long quarantines, focused lockdowns and mass testing.

This has saved instances low, with the territory of seven.4 million individuals reporting simply over 12 000 instances and 213 deaths because the pandemic started. However the strict measures have left residents minimize off from the remainder of the world.

On December 31, a streak of three months with out neighborhood instances ended with the primary native transmission of the Omicron variant.

Since then, authorities have scrambled to trace down and check lots of of people that had been involved with a handful of Omicron sufferers.

One affected person, nevertheless, had no recognized hyperlinks, elevating fears of a giant outbreak.

“We’re anxious there could also be silent transmission chains in the neighborhood,” Lam mentioned. “Some confirmed instances had quite a lot of actions earlier than being conscious they obtained contaminated.”

Lam mentioned the federal government wouldn’t droop lessons in the interim “for the advantage of kids”.

The most recent contact tracing marketing campaign was sparked by a affected person who danced with some 20 buddies in a central park on New Yr’s Eve. Two of the man dancers, certainly one of whom was a home helper, got here up optimistic in preliminary assessments.

READ | Boycotts, Covid and controversy as Beijing Olympics draw near

The helper’s employer and eight of her different shut contacts then went on a cruise on January 2.

As a part of its coronavirus restrictions, Hong Kong has restricted cruises to quick journeys in close by waters, with ships requested to function at lowered capability and to solely enable vaccinated passengers who check adverse for the virus.

The Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas ship, which returned a day early, had about 2 500 passengers and 1 200 workers on board. The 9 shut contact passengers have been remoted from the remainder of the individuals on board and preliminary assessments taken in the course of the journey returned adverse outcomes, authorities mentioned.

“Spectrum of the Seas is taking applicable measures beneath tips by the Division of Well being,” Royal Caribbean advised the Reuters information company in a press release.

READ | Omicron may be milder because it has a less effective way of attacking lung cells, studies say

The 9 shut contacts have been despatched to a quarantine centre, whereas the remainder of the passengers and workers must bear a number of assessments, the federal government mentioned.

Moreover, individuals who have been to dozens of locations throughout Hong Kong across the similar time because the shut contacts of latest sufferers have been issued obligatory testing notices, the federal government mentioned in a separate assertion.

Victoria Park, in downtown Hong Kong, the newly opened M+ fashionable artwork museum, ferry piers, eating places, shops and clinics have been among the many locations listed.

Gabriel Leung, College of Hong Kong dean of medication and a authorities adviser, advised public broadcaster RTHK there have been in all probability “five-to-10 invisible transmission chains” within the metropolis.

“There is no time to waste,” Leung mentioned. “We’d like circuit-breaker measures.”

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