Hong Kong has announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries including Australia and tightened local COVID-19 restrictions as authorities warn of a fifth wave of coronavirus in the city.
Incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Britain and the United States, including interchanges, would be banned from January 8 to January 21, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told reporters on Wednesday.
Lam said the government would ban indoor restaurant dining after 6pm from Friday, and close swimming pools, sports centres, bars and clubs, museums, and other venues for at least two weeks. Future cruise journeys would be cancelled.
“We’re yet to see a fifth wave yet, but we’re on the verge,” Lam said.
The global finance hub has stuck to a zero-Covid strategy by largely isolating itself from the world and enforcing a draconian and costly quarantine regime.
On December 31, a streak of three months without community cases ended with the first local transmission of the new Omicron variant.
As part of its coronavirus rules, Hong Kong has restricted cruises to short trips in nearby waters, with ships asked to operate at reduced capacity and to only allow vaccinated passengers who test negative for the virus.
The “Spectrum of the Seas” ship, which returned a day early, had about 2500 passengers and 1200 staff on board. The nine close contact passengers were isolated from the rest of the people on board and preliminary tests taken during the journey returned negative results, authorities said.
“Spectrum of the Seas is taking appropriate measures under guidelines by the Department of Health,” Royal Caribbean told Reuters in a statement.
The nine close contacts were sent to a quarantine centre, while the rest of the passengers and staff will have to undergo several compulsory tests in the coming days, the government said.
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