Hong Kong bans flights from Pakistan, 7 different nations amid fears of fifth Covid wave

The restrictions had been introduced amid fears of fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic


Hong Kong introduced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight nations, together with the United States and Britain, and tightened restrictions on Wednesday as authorities feared a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections.

The restrictions had been introduced as well being authorities scoured the town for the contacts of a Covid-19 affected person, a few of whom had been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship that was ordered to chop brief its “cruise to nowhere” and return to port.

Incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States, together with interchanges, can be banned from Jan. eight to Jan 21, Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam advised reporters.

Lam mentioned the federal government would ban indoor eating after 6.00 pm from Friday, and shut swimming swimming pools, sports activities centres, bars and golf equipment, museums, and different venues for at the least two weeks. Future cruise journeys can be cancelled.

Also learn: Omicron-related disruptions trigger over 4,000 flight cancellations to kick off 2022

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

Hong Kong recorded 38 new coronavirus instances on Wednesday, however just one was a local people transmission, whereas the remainder had been individuals who had returned to the town and examined optimistic throughout quarantine.

The world finance hub has caught to a zero-tolerance technique by largely isolating itself from the world and imposing a draconian and dear quarantine regime.

On Dec. 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 tons of of people that had been involved with a handful of Omicron sufferers. One affected person, nevertheless, had no identified hyperlinks, elevating fears of a giant outbreak.

“We are worried there may be silent transmission chains in the community,” Lam mentioned.

Also learn:Omicron ‘5 instances’ extra more likely to reinfect than Delta, no milder: research

Lam mentioned the federal government wouldn’t droop courses in the meanwhile “for the benefit of children”.

In response to the outbreak fears, Standard Chartered Plc has began working in cut up groups in Hong Kong, a financial institution spokesperson mentioned.

Dancing cluster

The newest contact tracing marketing campaign was sparked by a affected person who danced with some 20 pals in a central park on New Year’s Eve. Two of the man dancers, considered one of whom was a home helper, got here up optimistic in preliminary exams.

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

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

The “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 examined destructive for the virus to this point, authorities mentioned.

Also learn: Omicron detected in 89 nations, spreading quickly: WHO

“Spectrum of the Seas is taking appropriate measures under guidelines by the Department of Health,” Royal Caribbean advised Reuters in a press release.

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

Additionally, 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+ trendy artwork museum, ferry piers, eating places, shops, clinics had been among the many locations listed.

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

“There’s no time to waste,” Leung mentioned. “We need circuit-breaker measures.”

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