Hong Kong is to for a month suspend transit flights from about 150 countries and territories considered high risk because of COVID-19, deepening the global financial hub’s isolation.
The move comes as the territory has seen about 50 cases of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 since the end of last year.
Prior to the outbreak, which authorities said could be traced back to two aircrew members of Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong had had no local transmissions for more than three months.
Hong Kong International Airport yesterday said in a statement that travelers who have stayed in places classified as high risk by health authorities in the 21 days before traveling cannot transit through the territory from tomorrow until Feb. 15.
The measure was taken “in order to control the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant,” it said.
Hong Kong classifies more than 150 countries and territories as high risk.
Last week, it banned incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK and the US, including interchanges.
Hong Kong has followed mainland China’s policy in adopting zero-tolerance toward local COVID-19 cases, even as much of the world shifts toward living with the virus.
In the past few weeks, authorities have tightened quarantine restrictions on air crew and reintroduced curbs on social life.
Fifteen type of venues, including bars and clubs, movie theaters, gyms and beauty salons were ordered to close, while dining in restaurants is banned after 6pm. Primary schools and kindergartens have also shuttered.
The Hong Kong government was later yesterday expected to announce that the restrictions would be extended through the Lunar New Year holiday at the start of next month.
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