(CMR) As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly, resulting in increased hospitalization in many countries, Hong Kong has banned flights from eight countries, including the United Kingdom.
In an announcement made on Wednesday morning, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, UK, and the US would be prohibited from January 8 for two weeks.
Meantime, Hong Kong authorities have launched a city-wide search for the contacts of a COVID-19 patient and ordered a Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” ship to return to port early. Nine passengers on the vessel were identified as close contacts of an infected patient linked to a new Omicron cluster.
Hong Kong has seen a surge in infections in the past fortnight after being largely virus-free for the past seven months.
Over the past week, Hong Kong authorities have locked down several residential buildings linked to emerging Omicron clusters to prevent the spread of the variant in the city.
Along with mainland China, the city is one of the few places in the world still pursuing a zero-COVID strategy. While other countries have opted for vaccination as a route out of the pandemic, their strategy seeks to eliminate all COVID-19 transmission.
All overseas arrivals must undergo 21 days of quarantine upon entering Hong Kong – even if they are fully vaccinated.