HK expands travel curbs to 13 more nations, including Canada

This photo dated Sept 6, 2020 show a sign that reads “Please maintain physical distance at the Hong Kong International Airport. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong announced late Monday to expand travel restrictions amid the spread of the Omicron variant, adding 13 more countries including Canada and Australia to its COVID-19 high-risk list.

In a statement, the government said it will add four African countries — Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia — as Group A specified (high-risk) placies from Tuesday in view of the latest developments of the epidemic situation.

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This means non-Hong Kong residents from these four places will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the most stringent quarantine requirements will be implemented on Hong Kong residents arriving from these places. 

The city reported its third Omicron infection in a 37-year-old traveler from Nigeria on Monday, on top of two cases found last week

Returning Hong Kong residents are required to undergo quarantine at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for the first seven days, during which they have to undergo daily tests and their health conditions will be monitored by healthcare professionals. 

After seven days, they will then be allowed to finish the remaining 14 days of compulsory quarantine at the designated quarantine hotel which they have reserved. 

“They are still required to undergo frequent testing during quarantine there, followed by another compulsory testing in a community testing centre on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong,” according to the statement.

Such quarantine and testing arrangement is currently applicable to inbound travellers from eight South African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe — that are also on the government’s high-risk list.

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In addition, the government will also specify Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy as Group A specified high-risk places starting from December 2. 

“With the nine places above specified as Group A specified places, non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed there within 21 days are not allowed to enter Hong Kong,” according to the statement.

For Hong Kong residents, they can only board a flight for Hong Kong if they have been fully vaccinated and hold a recognised vaccination record. They have to undergo compulsory quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel for 21 days upon arrival at Hong Kong, with six tests to be conducted during quarantine, followed by compulsory testing in a Community Testing Centre on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong.

The city reported its third Omicron infection in a 37-year-old traveler from Nigeria on Monday, on top of two cases found last week.

The city’s overall infection tally stood at 21,540, with 213 COVID-19 related deaths.