Hong Kong announced a two-week ban on flights to Hong Kong International Airport from eight countries, reported by AFP. Incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, UK and US will be refused entry from midnight on Saturday.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said health officials are now concerned that the contagious variant of Omicron may spread silently throughout the community. “We have cases where the sources are identified but not the route of transmission,” she told reporters.
Bloomberg, however, reported today that there are approximately 150 countries and territories designated as high risk that will be banned from transit through Hong Kong International Airport from January 15, 2022 to February 14, 2022, although the end date will be subject to revision. Restriction is another move in the Special Administrative Region’s attempt to protect itself from the new variant.
Bloomberg sources claimed officials at Hong Kong International Airport have been briefed. However, details of how the ban works have yet to be finalized.
Hong Kong International Airport transit bans could affect international students
Hong Kong has long been considered a a hub for transits from mainland China, Taiwan and several other parts of the region, as well as for long journeys such as the United States and the United Kingdom, Bloomberg said.
Based on information from On the Hong Kong International Airport website, inbound passengers scheduled to arrive at the airport today include those from Beijing, Singapore, Dhaka, Osaka, and Ho Chi Minh.
Among the flights that must or have taken off from the airport are heading, among others, to London, Tokyo, Auckland, Chicago, Sydney, Manila, Dubai and Kolkata.
Hong Kong has announced strict new coronavirus controls after the Omicron variant is detected in the city. In addition to banning flights from eight countries, they are closing bars and gyms and canceling evening meals at restaurants.
Like mainland China, Hong Kong has maintained some of the toughest measures in the world throughout the pandemic – its tough border rules cause little shock due to its zero COVID-19 policy. This is in addition to multi-week quarantines, targeted lockdowns, and mass testing.
The city recorded 114 Omicron cases on Tuesday evening, with the vast majority identified at the airport or during the 21-day hotel quarantine mandatory for most arrivals.
As the variant spreads, Bloomberg predicts that inbound passengers from “Group A” destinations (or designated high-risk countries) will be affected by the anticipated Hong Kong International Airport announcement. .
Group A countries include Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan , Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Arabia Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
International students with upcoming layovers in Hong Kong should keep abreast of the situation by signing up for their respective airline’s SMS or email alerts for any flight updates.