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Hong Kong Suspends Flights From Eight Countries

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Hong Kong introduced a collection of strict pandemic management measures on Wednesday, together with suspending flights from america and 7 different nations, because it scrambled to comprise an incipient coronavirus outbreak.

The brand new measures got here because the authorities held 1000’s of passengers of a cruise ship underneath necessary quarantine to hint a Covid case.

The flight bans will deepen town’s isolation from the skin world and mark a return to the powerful restrictions town imposed within the early days of the pandemic. Hong Kong has largely introduced the coronavirus underneath management, however the arrival of the extremely transmissible Omicron variant threatens to set off town’s fifth wave of the pandemic.

“Given the very dire state of affairs of the pandemic, we have now to know this important second,” Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief govt, mentioned at a information convention.

Mrs. Lam had mentioned on Tuesday that no new social distancing measures have been anticipated. However the unfold of Omicron, together with the an infection of an individual with no clear connections to town’s first detected Omicron cluster, evidently pressured a change.

“We have now to comprise the pandemic to verify there is not going to be a serious outbreak in the neighborhood once more,” she mentioned. “We’re racing with Omicron.”

The restrictions will make it even more durable to enter Hong Kong, which already imposes among the world’s longest quarantines — as much as three weeks. Underneath the brand new guidelines, no flights will likely be allowed from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines or United States for 2 weeks, beginning on Saturday. Individuals who have not too long ago been in these nations can even be barred from coming into Hong Kong by different routes.

Massive public occasions will likely be canceled, and several other sorts of public venues — together with bars, gyms and karaoke parlors — will likely be closed. Guests will likely be barred from hospitals and nursing houses for 2 weeks. Eating in eating places after 6 p.m. will likely be banned. However the authorities determined to not cease in-person instruction in faculties, or to require authorities officers to do business from home.

Hong Kong has reported a rising variety of imported circumstances involving the Omicron variant, with 133 as of Tuesday.

“If this continues, there will likely be large pressure on our quarantine and well being care amenities,” mentioned Dr. Ronald Lam, Hong Kong’s director of well being.

An Omicron outbreak within the metropolis has been traced to a Cathay Pacific flight attendant who ignored quarantine necessities after returning to town from america. He dined on the Moon Palace restaurant within the upscale Style Stroll shopping center on Dec. 27, infecting his father and at the very least one different individual, who then contaminated others.

The restrictions got here as Hong Kong well being authorities on Wednesday ordered a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to return to port early as officers looked for the contacts of a Covid-19 affected person.

9 individuals who boarded the ship, the Spectrum of the Seas, on Jan. 2 had come into contact with the affected person, who didn’t board the ship, the federal government mentioned in a press release. The 9 have been advised to quarantine as quickly as they have been recognized as contacts, although they preliminarily examined detrimental.

The vessel, which was carrying about 2,500 friends and 1,200 employees members, was scheduled to return on Thursday however was again in port as ordered on Wednesday morning, a Royal Caribbean consultant mentioned.

Greater than 3,000 passengers of the ship have been subjected to necessary quarantine, Hong Kong’s chief govt, Carrie Lam, mentioned at a information convention on Wednesday.

All crew members and friends 12 and older needed to be totally vaccinated in opposition to Covid-19 and supply detrimental take a look at outcomes earlier than boarding, the cruise line mentioned in a press release. The passengers who sailed on the ship will obtain a 25 % refund on their cruise fare, it added.

The cruise line additionally mentioned that it had canceled one other ship scheduled to depart on Thursday and that every one friends who had booked it might obtain a full refund.

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