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Hong Kong bars flights from India, seven other countries over Omicron fears

Cathay Pacific Airways aircrafts line up on the tarmac at the Hong Kong International Airport. File

Cathay Pacific Airways aircrafts line up on the tarmac at the Hong Kong International Airport. File

Hong Kong on Wednesday barred flights from India and seven other nations for two weeks, part of a raft of new measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.

While most of Hong Kong’s 114 reported Omicron cases have been imported, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is currently battling its first local spread in many months.

Health authorities said on Wednesday, explaining the new restrictions including a ban on dining in restaurants after 6 pm and the closure of gyms and bars, that they feared community transmission as they have not been able to entirely determine the routes of spread of the cases.

The source of the local outbreak was identified as two crew of the airline Cathay Pacific, whom the authorities said had violated isolation protocols.

As part of the measures, travellers and flights from eight countries have been barred for two weeks. The countries are India, U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Pakistan and Philippines.

The new more transmissible variants have challenged the “zero COVID” policy in place in both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, which has been dealing with a recent spread of cases in several cities, most notably in Xian.

The strategy is predicated on continued restrictions on international travel including mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, mass testing as well as quarantining of close contacts to ensure clusters are controlled and cases are brought to zero.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 1:24:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/hong-kong-bars-flights-from-india-seven-other-countries-over-omicron-fears/article38133488.ece