Hong Kong bans flights, imposes other COVID-19 restrictions

Hong Kong (Associated Press)-On Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities announced a two-week ban on flights from the United States and seven other countries, and tested 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship for coronavirus as the city tried to stop The emerging omicron epidemic.

The two-week passenger ban in Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States will take effect on Sunday and will last until January 21.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam also announced that for two weeks starting from Friday, dining in restaurants will be banned after 6 pm. During this period, game halls, bars and beauty salons must also be closed.

Lin said at a press conference: “We must contain the pandemic to ensure that the community does not break out again,” adding that the city is “on the verge of another surge.”

These measures come as new omicron clusters have emerged in the past week, many of which are related to several Cathay Pacific crew members who violated the quarantine rules and ate in restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong has reported 114 cases of omicron variants, most of which were imported. On Tuesday, it reported the first untraceable case in nearly three months, and the authorities said this may be caused by a variant of omicron.

Hong Kong officials acted quickly to stop the spread of the variant, cordoned off residential buildings where people tested positive, and carried out mass testing of thousands of people.

These included approximately 2,500 passengers, who were detained on a cruise ship in Hong Kong for coronavirus testing on Wednesday, after health authorities said nine passengers were related to the omicron cluster and ordered the ship to return.

According to a government statement, the authorities forced the Royal Caribbean’s Ocean Spectrum ship to return a day earlier on Wednesday, and the ship set off on Sunday with “nowhere to go”.

The ship returned to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, and passengers were left on board most of the time while waiting for testing.

One passenger, Claudy Wong, stated that Royal Caribbean has done its best to comply with pandemic regulations.

“The pandemic has been going on for so long. In fact, passengers who boarded cruise ships like us are prepared for this to happen,” Wong said.

Royal Caribbean stated in a statement that 9 guests were immediately quarantined and the test results were all negative. The company is working closely with the authorities to comply with epidemic prevention policies and regulations.

It stated that guests on the affected ships will receive a 25% refund of the cruise fare. The ship’s next voyage on Thursday was also cancelled because the crew must be tested and these guests will receive a full refund.

As of Tuesday, the city had reported 12,690 confirmed coronavirus infections, including 213 deaths.

For more information, please visit the Washington Times COVID-19 Resources page.

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