Hong Kong will ban all flights from the UK from 1 July in order to prevent the spread of the Delta variant to the Chinese city, its government said, as it designated Britain an “extremely high-risk” destination.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said that people who have stayed in the UK for more than two hours would be restricted from boarding passenger flights for Hong Kong.
The government said this comes “in view of the recent rebound of the epidemic situation in the UK and the widespread Delta variant virus strain there, coupled with a number of cases with L452R mutant virus strains detected by tests from people arriving from the UK.”
The UK was designated a “high-risk place” by Hong Kong at the end of December last year, but restrictions were gradually eased in April and May as the pandemic situation improved.
A Hong Kong government spokesperson said: “The government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation of various places, the prevalence of new virus variants, vaccination progress, and changes in the volume of cross-boundary passenger traffic, and will adjust the boarding and compulsory quarantine requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from relevant places as the situation warrants.”
Hong Kong had last week banned passenger flights from Indonesia, terming it "extremely high risk". It has also banned arrivals from Brazil, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa.
Hong Kong has reported 11,921 cases of Covid-19 and 211 deaths to date, while most of the city's recent cases have been imported.
The World Health Organisation has said that the Delta variant of Covid-19 is the “most transmissible” of the variants identified so far and is spreading fast among those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
In the UK, experts have said that a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is underway because of the Delta variant and the government has been warned that the planned lifting of all restrictions on 19 July is “possibly too early.” The reopening on 21 June was delayed because of concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.
The UK recorded 18,270 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, the highest figure since 3 February.