Hong Kong bans all flights from United States, seven other countries

Taking effect Sunday and lasting two weeks, Hong Kong authorities instituted a ban on flights from the United States and seven other countries as the city is attempting to stop an emerging outbreak of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The other countries include Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Britain. 

“We have to contain he pandemic to ensure that there will not be a major outbreak in the community again,” said Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam at a news conference, saying the city is “on the verge” of another spike in cases.

Lam also announced that restaurant dining will be forbidden after 6 p.m. beginning on Friday and continuing for two weeks. Gaming arcades, bars, and beauty salons will also have to be closed during that period. 

Several new omicron clusters have emerged in the city over the past week, sparking the implementation of the new measures. Many of those clusters were linked to several Cathay Pacific crew members who broke their isolation requirement and dined at bars and restaurants before testing positive.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 114 omicron variant cases, most of which were imported. That day, the city reported its first untraceable case in nearly three months. 

Hong Kong has tried to mobilize quickly to block the spread of the new variant. Residential buildings where people have tested positive have been locked down, and the city has moved to mass test thousands of people.

The mass testing included roughly 2,500 passengers who were being held on a cruise ship in Hong Kong on Wednesday awaiting coronavirus tests. Health authorities said nine passengers aboard the ship were linked to an omicron cluster. 




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