Hong Kong has banned travel from three countries following a rise of COVID-19 cases and new variants. The government has banned flights from India, Pakistan, and the Philippines for 14 days starting April 20th. Hong Kong has been banning airlines and countries that have seen brought in imported cases to the city or breached travel rules.
Hong Kong has long been a city that takes its border protocols seriously. The city has banned airlines on specific routes for carrying more than a handful of COVID-19 positive passengers and proactively designated countries based on risk factor. This week, three more countries found themselves on the travel ban list.
According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong has designated India, Pakistan, and the Philippines as “extremely high risk” countries. This has been done due to the presence of new variants of COVID-19 being found among passengers arriving from these three countries.
In particular, Hong Kong is extremely concerned about the South African variant of the virus, which has been spreading globally. The bans also come days after the city reported its first community case of the variant, causing alarm and quarantines to avoid further spread.
In addition to no flights, everyone currently in quarantine from the three countries will have to undergo another test on the 26th day after arriving. Hong Kong already has one of the strictest quarantines globally, with a 21-day hotel stay needed to enter.
India, Pakistan, and the Philippines now join the infamous ’red’ list first created by the UK last December. Hong Kong has also banned travel from South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, and several other countries due to concerns of variants. The territory has had relative success in containing the virus, only reporting 11,683 cases and 209 deaths, far below other countries.
The ban for the three countries is set to last for 14 days, from 20th April to May 3rd. However, this could be extended in the future, as cases continue to rise in all three countries. The restrictions apply to anyone who has been in India, Pakistan, or the Philippines in the 21 days preceding their arrival in Hong Kong.
Airlines banned too
In addition to the growing list of countries banned, Hong Kong has also tightened rules on airlines. Both Singapore Airlines and Scoot have received bans due to positive cases or breaching entry conditions in recent weeks. Along with them, Emirates and KLM have also earned themselves bans under the stricter flight rules.
Vistara also saw its second Hong Kong ban despite not operating any scheduled routes to the city and only flying charter flights. Air India, too, has received five bans from the city, although it had managed to avoid them more recently.
Flag carrier Cathay Pacific has also seen several route-specific bans, including one for Manila last month. For now, don’t expect Hong Kong to ease its strict flight rules any time soon.
What do you think about Hong Kong’s decision? Should airlines be required to conduct pre-flight tests? Let us know in the comments!