News

Hong Kong bans flights as Omicron surges around globe

Vaccine policy sparked public anger in Australia where world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was given a medical exemption allowing him to play at this month’s Australian Open

Asian financial hub Hong Kong banned flights from eight nations on Wednesday as part of strict new virus curbs, with Omicron outbreaks spiralling out of control from Europe to the United States.

The new coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly across continents, leaving governments rushing to roll out vaccine boosters and bolster healthcare systems as infection numbers reach new highs.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the city was shuttering bars and gyms and cancelling evening restaurant dining after Omicron was detected in the international business hub.

Like mainland China, Hong Kong has maintained some of the world’s harshest controls — including weeks-long quarantine periods, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.

Lam said health officials feared the strain was silently spreading within the community.

Hong Kong also ordered a cruise ship carrying 3,700 people back to port for testing after nine people were found to be close contacts of Omicron patients.

To the north in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, at least 12 million residents were ordered to take Covid-19 tests Wednesday after just 11 Omicron cases were detected.

But Xi’an’s case numbers fell to their lowest in weeks on Wednesday, with officials saying the outbreak had been “brought under control”.

China has stuck to a rigid approach of stamping out Covid cases when they appear, with tight border restrictions and targeted lockdowns since Covid-19 first emerged in the country in 2019.

The “zero Covid” approach stands in marked contrast to the strategy employed by many Western nations that have chosen to live with virus rather than return to severe restrictions.

Britain breached 200,000 cases for the first time on Tuesday, Australia posted almost 50,000 and France registered more than 270,000, with all three countries easily topping their previous records.

The government is seeking to push through legislation that will make vaccination compulsory for cultural activities, to use inter-city trains or visit a cafe, sparking a backlash among those opposed to further government edicts.

Vaccine policy sparked further anger in Australia, where world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was given a medical exemption allowing him to play at this month’s Australian Open.

But Stephen Parnis, a former Australian Medical Association vice-president, said it sent an “appalling message” to people trying to stop the spread of the virus.

burs-axn/ser

Originally published as Hong Kong bans flights as Omicron surges around globe

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close