Hong Kong Bans Inbound Flights From Eight Nations, Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions

Hong Kong authorities announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries and tightened restrictions on Wednesday as health officials confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including interchanges, would be banned from January 8 to January 21.

“We’re yet to see a fifth wave yet, but we’re on the verge,” Lam said.

Lam said the government would ban indoor dining after 6.00 pm from Friday and close swimming pools, sports centers, bars and clubs, museums, and other venues for at least two weeks, including future cruise journeys.

On December 31, 2021, after three months without community cases, health authorities detected the first local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Authorities have since then scoured the city to track down and test hundreds of people who had been in contact with a handful of Omicron patients.

However, Lam said that one patient had no known links, raising fears of a large outbreak.

“We are worried there may be silent transmission chains in the community,” Lam added.

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