Hong Kong Will Lift Its Flight Ban for 9 Countries

Hong Kong announced Monday it would lift its ban on flights from nine countries on April 1, just one of the restrictions it plans to ease as experts and government officials say the worst wave of an Omicron-powered wave may be over. is.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Monday that vaccinated residents would only need to quarantine for seven days against 14 days when they arrive from abroad. The isolation for travelers had been some of the strictest in the world, discouraging many from returning to the Chinese territory of 7.4 million people.

She also shelved plans to have every person in the city undergo PCR testing and set the deadline for receiving booster shots to May 31. The extra dose will be required to enter public places, including supermarkets and shopping malls.

For most of the pandemic, Hong Kong has cut itself off from the rest of the world, requiring travelers to quarantine at a hotel for three weeks, in line with policies in mainland China.

As the Omicron variant quickly spread around the world at the beginning of this year, the government banned flights from the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines in an effort to contain the number of viruses. to keep at zero. When flights from those nine countries resume in April, only vaccinated residents will be eligible to return.

While the new measures remain some of the strictest in the world, Hong Kong’s approach appears to be slightly different from that of mainland China. Two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Shenzhen, will remain on lockdown and millions of residents there will have to undergo PCR tests in a bid to reduce the number of cases to zero.

More than 5,000 people have died from Covid in Hong Kong and more than a million cases have been registered since January. Researchers estimate that nearly half of the city may be infected with the virus.

The lifting of no-fly zones comes at the urging of experts, including Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong, who said last month that residents are more at risk of infection from community transmission than from imported cases

The Hong Kong government has gone from one policy to another in dealing with the rapidly evolving Omicron outbreak. Ms Lam, the city’s leader, said on Monday she would suspend plans for mandatory Covid testing, weeks after rumors of a simultaneous lockdown sparked waves of panic buying and an exodus from the city.

Schools were closed for an early “summer break” in February, in part because officials planned to use campuses for mass testing sites. Ms Lam said there was no longer a “roadmap” to conduct mass testing while the outbreak is still raging, but she would not rule out that option in the future.

SOURCE – www.nytimes.com

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