Published on 14 Jan. 2022 at 17: 51
Hong Kong reaffirms its “zero Covid” strategy. Air passengers coming from 18 countries will no longer be able to transit through the former British colony, in order to preventing the spread of Covid, the city’s airport announced. This suspension, which concerns all countries classified as “high risk” for health by the Hong Kong authorities, will take effect on Sunday for a period of one month. It aims to “control the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-18”, indicated the airport on its website.
Hong Kong has already prohibited access to its territory, since January 8, to any passenger who has stayed for more than two hours during the 14 last days in eight countries (Australia, Canada, USA, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, UK). Transit through Hong Kong airport will now be prohibited for people coming from all other countries deemed to be “high risk”. Entering Hong Kong will remain possible for them, provided that they are fully vaccinated and subject to 51 quarantine days upon arrival.
Impact on the Beijing Olympics
This decision is a new blow for the airline Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, which has already drastically reduced its flights since the start of the pandemic. Many other companies have also reduced their flights to the city or stopped serving it, due to the long quarantines imposed on passengers and crew members.
The ban on transit through Hong Kong is likely to have an impact on preparations for the Beijing Winter Olympics, starting February 4. Many sports delegations have planned to change planes in Hong Kong to go to the Chinese capital.
Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, said earlier this week that a transit ban would not apply to athletes, diplomats and other members of official delegations traveling to the Olympics. But the press release from the airport on Friday does not mention any exception.
Small focus of local contamination
Along with mainland China, Hong Kong is one of the last places in the world to cling to the “zero Covid” strategy. “, consisting in avoiding at all costs the spread of the coronavirus on its territory and in a draconian policy of isolation of patients and their contacts. For Hong Kong’s Minister of Trade and Economic Development, Edward Lau, who spoke in an interview with the Financial Times, the global fight against the highly contagious variant Omicron has only strengthened the city in its approach. “I don’t think anyone can give you a specific timetable” on the lifting of border restrictions, he explained.
This strategy has enabled the city of 7.5 million to register just over 12. case and only 213 deaths since the start of the pandemic, but at the cost of costly international isolation for this major global financial center. The authorities have been on a war footing since the appearance of a small focus of local contamination in Omicron in a restaurant, which triggered massive testing campaigns, frantic tracing of contact cases, the closure of primary schools, bars, sports facilities, schools, cinemas and museums, and a curfew for restaurants from 18 time.