The countries affected by the ban on arrivals are Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Australia and the Philippines, the head of the organization told reporters. Hong Kong Executive Carrie Lam.
Passenger flights from these countries will not be allowed to land in Hong Kong and individuals who have stayed in these countries are no longer allowed to board flights to Hong Kong, including connecting flights. from Saturday midnight and for two weeks, she said.
Other measures announced Wednesday in Hong Kong include a ban on large-scale public events and the closure of 15 types of businesses, including bars, nightclubs, gyms and beauty salons. Dining inside restaurants will be prohibited after 6 p.m.
cruises to nowhere, put in place to allow Hong Kongers to travel aboard a ship for several days without disembarking abroad (and therefore without having to undergo quarantine on their return), were also canceled.
On Wednesday, a ship carrying 3,700 passengers and crew was forced to return to port due to the presence on board of nine contact cases of an outbreak of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Hong Kong, like mainland China, practices a strategy of
zero COVID consisting of a long quarantine for anyone entering its territory and a draconian policy of isolating patients and their contacts.
Mandatory masks, restrictions on public gatherings of more than four and restaurant quotas were maintained even during times when no local cases were detected for weeks.
This strategy has enabled the city of 7.5 million inhabitants to record just over 12,000 cases and only 213 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but at the cost of costly international isolation for this. major global financial center.
So far, 114 cases of Omicron variant contamination have been detected in Hong Kong, mostly in travelers tested on arrival or during quarantine.
But the authorities have been on a war footing since the appearance of a small focus of local contamination in Omicron in a restaurant a few days ago, which triggered massive testing campaigns and frantic tracing of contact cases.
According to Lam, health officials are concerned that the new variant is currently silently spreading across the city.
We are dealing with cases where the sources have been identified, but not the pattern of transmission., she explained.
Lam said resuming links with mainland China should precede reopening to the rest of the world. But little concrete progress has been made in this direction, and the new wave of contamination is expected to delay this deadline again.
Hong Kong’s ability to reopen has also been hampered by the low vaccination rate.
Despite abundant vaccine stocks, only 70% of Hong Kong people have opted to receive two doses, and the vaccination rate for the elderly, the most vulnerable group, is much lower.