Jan 5, 2022 - Health

Hong Kong bans flights from U.S. and 7 other nations to curb Omicron

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a press conference as her government announces strict new anti-coronavirus controls in Hong Kong on January 5, 2022.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a press conference Jan. 5 to announce new COVID-19 measures in Hong Kong. Photo: Daniel Suen/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong on Wednesday banned all incoming passenger flights from eight countries, including the United States, to prevent the spread of Omicron, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The new restrictions mark the city's strictest COVID-19 restrictions since the pandemic began two years ago as officials seek to maintain a "zero-covid" policy amid the spread of Omicron, per the Post.

Driving the news: Under the new restrictions, beginning Jan. 8, all flights from Britain, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Philippines, France and India will be banned for at least two weeks.

  • The government will also ban indoor dining after 6 p.m. local time, in addition to closing swimming pools, sports facilities, bars, museums and other venues, Reuters reports.
  • Future cruises will also be canceled, per the new restrictions.

The big picture: The measures come as community spread in Hong Kong remains low, with only six confirmed Omicron cases detected, but vaccination rates also remain low, especially among the elderly, according to the Post.

  • Only about 20% of people above 80 are fully vaccinated, according to government data.

What she's saying: "We are on the verge of another outbreak," Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, adding that the new restrictions are more "decisive and comprehensive" than previous restrictions that have been implemented to curb the virus.

Go deeper: Omicron dashboard

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