Omicron scare: Hong Kong bans inbound flights from eight countries including India

Omicron scare: Hong Kong bans inbound flights from eight countries including India

HONG KONG: Hong Kong introduced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight international locations on Wednesday and tightened native COVID-19 restrictions as authorities feared a fifth wave of coronavirus within the metropolis.

The newest restrictions had been introduced as well being authorities scoured 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, Philippines, Britain and the US, together with interchanges, could be banned from Jan.8 to Jan 21, Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam advised reporters on Wednesday.

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 very least two weeks. Future cruise journeys could be cancelled.

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

The worldwide finance hub has caught to a zero-Covid 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 brand new Omicron variant.

Since then, authorities have scrambled to trace down and take a look at tons of of people that had been in touch with a handful of Omicron sufferers. One affected person, nonetheless, had no recognized hyperlinks, elevating fears of a giant outbreak.

“We’re frightened there could also be silent transmission chains locally,” Lam mentioned. “Some confirmed instances had a number of actions earlier than being conscious they bought contaminated.”

The newest contact tracing marketing campaign was sparked by a affected person who danced with some 20 mates in a central park on New Yr`s Eve. Two of the guy dancers, certainly one of whom was a home helper, got here up optimistic in preliminary checks.

The helper`s employer and eight different of her shut contacts then went on a cruise journey 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 diminished capability and to solely permit vaccinated passengers who take a look at unfavorable for the virus.

The “Spectrum of the Seas” ship, which returned a day early, had about 2,500 passengers and 1,200 employees on board. The 9 shut contact passengers had been remoted from the remainder of the individuals on board and preliminary checks taken through the journey returned unfavorable outcomes, authorities mentioned.

“Spectrum of the Seas is taking acceptable measures beneath tips by the Division of Well being,” Royal Caribbean advised Reuters in an announcement.

The 9 shut contacts had been despatched to a quarantine centre, whereas the remainder of the passengers and employees should endure a number of obligatory checks in coming days, the federal government mentioned.

Moreover, individuals who have been to dozens of locations throughout Hong Kong across the identical 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, clinics had 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 most likely “five-to-10 invisible transmission chains” within the metropolis.

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

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