Hong Kong to ban passenger flights from UK to fight virus
HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong has announced it will ban all passenger flights from the UK from Thursday as it seeks to curb the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.
He said in a statement on Monday that the UK had been classified as “at extremely high risk” due to the “recent rebound in the epidemic situation in the UK and the widespread strain of the delta variant virus there”.
Under this classification, people who have been in the UK for more than two hours will not be able to board passenger flights to Hong Kong.
This is the second time that the Hong Kong government has banned flights from the UK, following a restriction imposed last December.
The ban comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and China over semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which was a British colony until it was handed over to China in 1997.
The UK has criticized China for imposing a national security law on Hong Kong and tightening control over its media, saying Beijing is undermining the city’s autonomy.
The flight ban was triggered by a policy put in place by the government to prevent variants of the coronavirus from spreading in Hong Kong.
A suspension of passenger flights is imposed if five or more passengers arriving from a location test positive on arrival for a particular variant of the coronavirus, or a relevant viral mutation within seven days.
A ban is also triggered if 10 or more passengers from one location are confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus through tests, including tests performed during quarantine, within seven days.
The UK on Sunday reported 14,876 people testing positive for the coronavirus as it has seen a recent spike in infections. It has confirmed more than 4 million cases since the start of the pandemic.
Hong Kong, which for months imposed a 21-day quarantine for arrivals from most countries and implemented strict social distancing rules, reported three new cases of the coronavirus on Monday. It has confirmed a total of 11,921 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The UK’s flight ban comes as Hong Kong seeks to ease quarantine measures for most other countries, including the US and Canada.
Several other countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia, also face flight bans to Hong Kong.