Corona pandemic: Hong Kong bans transit flights from 153 countries

Status: 01/14/2022 1:32 p.m.

Three weeks before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong airport prohibits layovers for travelers from 153 countries – the reason for this is the spread of omicron. Mainland China is also tightening measures.

Hong Kong International Airport has banned passengers from more than 150 countries and territories from stopping in the Chinese SAR for a month. The measure comes into effect on Sunday and is valid until February 15, it said in a public notice. The aim is to contain the highly contagious omicron variant of the corona virus.

As in mainland China, strict measures such as long quarantines, targeted lockdowns and mass testing also apply in Hong Kong. Hong Kong currently classifies 153 countries in Group A due to high corona incidences. Travelers in this group must quarantine for 21 days after entry. The stopover ban should now apply to passengers who have traveled to any of the 153 countries in the last three weeks.

Eruption of Omicron by crew members

China’s special administrative region is struggling with a small outbreak of the omicron variant. It was triggered by crew members of Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific who failed to follow quarantine rules at home.

It is unclear whether the transit ban will affect the Beijing Winter Olympics. Many athletes, diplomats and government officials are expected to fly to China via Hong Kong in the coming days. The Beijing Winter Olympics begin on February 4.

China tightens measures

Due to isolated outbreaks, China also announced today that it will strengthen measures. Children in international schools are to be tested for the virus from next week. Air passengers wishing to enter via a third country will no longer be allowed to enter the country. Residents are urged to travel only when absolutely necessary – with no guarantee that they will be allowed to return if they have visited a town or region where an outbreak has occurred.

Flights and bus services between Beijing and several cities have been suspended. The measures are likely to show nervousness over a possible rise in cases ahead of the games.

Massentest in Tianjin

The city of Tianjin, a port and manufacturing hub of 14 million people about an hour from the capital, ordered a third round of mass testing to begin Saturday morning and be completed within 24 hours. Tianjin is one of six cities where the government has imposed lockdowns and other restrictions to track down every virus case. In recent days, 126 cases have been discovered there, which apparently traced back to the omicron variant.

Authorities suspended all travel connections between Tianjin and Beijing. In total, more than 20 million people are confined, many of whom have to stay at home. Factories have been closed, affecting the supply of computer chips and other products.

China has also banned dozens of overseas flights from Europe, Canada, the United States, Indonesia and other countries after passengers tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival. China has repeatedly imposed far-reaching travel restrictions since the outbreak of the pandemic and, with mass testing and digital surveillance, has prevented the corona virus from spreading at all levels.

Leave a Comment