Hong Kong yesterday said it was stopping all tourist arrivals and transit passengers, including those from Taiwan, at its airport as of midnight tonight, as global emergency efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic ratcheted up around the world, with the death toll topping15,000 and more than 1 billion people being confined to their homes.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) announced a raft of measures designed to stop the upward trend of cases in the territory.
“From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city,” she said, adding that the order would be in place for at least two weeks.
The airport would also bar all transit passengers, Lam said.
Non-residents would still be allowed to enter Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland, Macau and Taiwan, but not if they have been to any other foreign country in the past 14 days.
The government was also planning to curb the sale of alcohol at more than 8,000 bars and restaurants, she said.
An emotional Lam said many people took off their masks in bars and “even have intimate acts when they are tipsy,” increasing the risk of cross-infection.
“So, we are going to suggest, as it requires legislative work, around 8,600 restaurants, bars and clubs with liquor licenses to temporarily suspend the sale of alcohol by amending the law,” Lam told a news conference.
“We are investigating any further measures we can do rather than a complete closure of restaurants as we know many Hong Kong residents do not cook at home and often dine out,” she said.
Alcohol would be available in supermarkets and convenience stores across the territory.
The government announced 39 new cases yesterday, 30 of which had a recent travel history, bringing its total to 357.
Four people have died of the disease in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, governments scrambling to defend their own economies against the pandemic are being urged to coordinate to ward off a long-term global recession and future waves of infections.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria said that the coordination ought to exceed both the 1930s New Deal in the US and the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II.
A global recession looks “increasingly likely” in the first half of this year,” and “we must act now to avoid a protracted recession” Gurria said in a statement.
“Only a sizeable, credible, internationally coordinated effort can deal with the immediate public health emergency, buffer the economic shock and develop a path towards recovery,” he said.
While many governments are unveiling titanic spending packages against the pandemic, there has so far been no collective action plan from organizations such as the G7 or G20.
Gurria said governments had to work together to ensure progress on the scientific front, including mass testing and vaccine research.
“Everything must be done to earn the confidence of citizens, who felt the weaknesses in our economies before all this began,” he said.
Richer governments and their central banks are raising trillions of dollars to combat COVID-19, but concerns are mounting for poorer ones.
“If South Africa can’t afford to control the virus, it will spread again. No country can afford to keep every other country banned from traveling,” Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital in London, told Agence France-Presse. “So I would argue there has to be a global financing solution to address this virus crisis.”
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with