Hong Kong bans transit flights from over 150 countries including UK amid Omicron outbreak

·2-min read
A Cathay Pacific flight comes in to land at Hong Kong airport (Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A Cathay Pacific flight comes in to land at Hong Kong airport (Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hong Kong International Airport said it will ban transit passengers from 150 countries including the UK after an outbreak of Omicron.

The city will reinforce tough travel controls from Sunday and extend social distancing restrictions, including a ban on dining in after 6pm by two weeks.

Large-scale events, such as Lunar New Year fairs held annually in Hong Kong, will be cancelled.

The transit ban and extension of distancing rules come as the city grapples with an Omicron outbreak of the coronavirus, with most of the cases traced to two crew members of Cathay Pacific who had broken isolation rules and dined at restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive.

Over the past two weeks, authorities have locked down multiple residential buildings across the city and mass-tested thousands as they sought to stamp out infections.

“We’re worried that there may be asymptomatic Hong Kong carriers who are still missed in the community,” said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam during a news conference Friday.

“So our assessment on this basis is that there is still a risk of an outbreak,” she said.

Airline passengers who have stayed in over 150 places deemed “high risk” in the last 21 days, including the United States and Britain, will be banned from transiting in Hong Kong from January 16 to February 15, according to a notice posted by the airport.

The latest outbreak saw over 50 local infections reported since the end of 2021 after three months of zero community transmissions.

Prior to that, Hong Kong went three months with no community transmissions and had been in talks with the mainland to resume quarantine-exempted travel with the rest of China.

Last week, Hong Kong imposed a two-week ban on incoming flights from the US, Canada, Australia, France, Britain, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The city last week banned dining in after 6pm and ordered venues such as museums, cinemas, gyms and libraries to close for at least two weeks.

Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-tolerance” Covid-19 policy, with authorities intent on stamping out all outbreaks.

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