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Hong Kong is known for introducing some of the strictest pandemic restrictions in the world, including long quarantines and lockdowns. In the latest anouncement, Hong Kong airport has announced a ban on transit passengers from as many as 153 countries.
On January 14, Hong Kong's airport stated that people who have been to any of these countries in the last 21 days are banned from transiting, January 16 onwards.
"Passenger transfer/transit services via Hong Kong International Airport for any persons who have stayed in Group A specified place(s) in the past 21 days will be suspended," the airport said in a statement, adding that the ban was needed to control the Omicron variant's spread.
Hong Kong divides territories into categories based on how widespread their COVID-19 infections are. 153 countries are currently classified as Group A—those arriving from these countries must spend 21 days in quarantine. Eight countries (in Group A), including India, Pakistan, Canada, France, the Philippines, Australia, Britain and the United States have been already been banned entirely from arriving in Hong Kong.
Recently, due to rising Omicron cases, the Hong Kong government had announced that it is closing all theme parks, banning indoor dining after 6 pm, and shutting down public venues like gyms, pools, party rooms, clubs, and museums—for at least two weeks.
The strict measures come after a recent Omicron outbreak was traced to a returning Cathay Pacific flight crew who had flouted home quarantine rules and dined out across the city.
Before that, Hong Kong had gone three months with no community transmissions and was set to resume quarantine-exempted travel with the rest of China.
A report in Japan Today stated that this latest move will deepen "Hong Kong's global isolation as the city pursues a staunch zero-COVID policy, and creates new headaches for airlines—some of which have begun avoiding the Chinese territory because of its strict quarantine rules."
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