Hong Kong has imposed a two-week embargo on flights from eight countries, including Australia, and has tightened local Covid-19 restrictions, fearing a new wave of coronavirus infections.
The new limitations were announced as health officials scoured the city for connections of a Covid-19 patient, some of whom had been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship that had been ordered to return to port after being ordered to cut short its “cruise to nowhere.”
Incoming aircraft, including transiting passengers, from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States would be barred from January 8 to January 21, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told reporters.
Ms Lam stated that from Friday, the government will prohibit indoor dining after 6:00 p.m., and that swimming pools, sports centres, bars and clubs, museums, and other places will be closed for at least two weeks.
Cruises are being cancelled in the future.
“We haven’t seen a fifth wave yet, but it’s coming,” Ms Lam said.
By largely isolating itself from the rest of the world and imposing a strict and costly quarantine rule, the global finance hub has maintained a zero-Covid approach.
With the initial local transmission of the novel Omicron form on December 31, a three-month period without community cases came to an end.
Authorities have been scrambling to find and test hundreds of persons who have come into contact with a few of Omicron cases since then.
However, one case had no known connections, raising concerns about a widespread breakout.