Hong Kong banned flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 14 days starting from Tuesday as the city reported the first two cases with highly transmissible virus variant in the community over the weekend.
Visitors who have stayed in the three countries for more than two hours in the past 21 days will also be restricted from boarding any passenger flights to Hong Kong, the government said, adding the countries are now classified as areas of “extremely high risk.”
The bans stem from a circuit breaker arrangement that Hong Kong has instituted, which was triggered for each of the countries as there had been five or more arrivals with the N501Y mutant coronavirus strain within seven days, it said. The strain was first detected in South Africa.
The moves come after Hong Kong reported the first two cases of a mutant coronavirus strain in the community over the weekend, another hurdle in the city’s efforts to bring ongoing waves of Covid cases fully under control. Officials are trying to convince skeptical residents to get vaccinated — seen as key to re-opening the economy and reviving travel.
Neighbouring Macau will also require visitors who have been to the three countries to quarantine for 28 days at a designated place upon arrival, according to a government statement. Hong Kong quarantined 81 residents of a building in a densely populated Kowloon neighborhood on Saturday, after a man who had travelled to Hong Kong from Dubai initially tested positive for a mutant strain of Covid-19.