Hong Kong bans non-resident arrivals from 13 more countries due to Omicron

People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walk on a street in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong has banned non-residents from entering the city from four African countries and plans to expand that to travellers who have been to Australia, Canada, Israel and six European countries in the past 21 days due to fears over Omicron.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday the Omicron coronavirus variant carried a very high risk of infection surges, and countries around the world have tightened travel restrictions.

In a statement late on Monday, the Hong Kong government said non-residents from Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia would not be allowed to enter the global financial hub as of Nov. 30. Residents can return if they are vaccinated but will have to quarantine for seven days in a government facility and another two weeks in a hotel at their own cost.

“Non-Hong Kong residents from these four places will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong,” the statement said. “The most stringent quarantine requirements will also be implemented on relevant inbound travellers from these places.”

Additionally, non-residents who have been to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and Italy in the past 21 days would not be allowed to enter the city from Dec. 2. Vaccinated residents returning from these countries will have to do three weeks of hotel quarantine.

Hong Kong last week banned non-Hong Kong residents arriving from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Authorities have detected three people with the Omicron variant through mandatory testing while in quarantine, but it has no known coronavirus cases in the general community.

The global financial hub is among the last places in the world pursuing a zero-COVID strategy and has some of the tightest travel restrictions. In coming months it hopes to partially reopen the border with mainland China, which also has no tolerance for coronavirus cases.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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