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Hong Kong to ban UK flights from Saturday

Hong Kong will ban flights from the UK and seven other countries for two weeks from Saturday (January 8) amid fears about the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The government said the grounding of flights is due to “the rapidly worsening global pandemic situation due to the Omicron variant”.

“The number of imported cases involving the Omicron variant has been continuously rising recently and there are signs of local community transmission and spreading,” it added.

“As such, more stringent inbound control measures must be implemented to further reduce the number of people arriving in the city from high-risk places so as to intercept the importation of cases.”

The other countries facing the ban are Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and the US.

Furthermore, travellers who have stayed in these countries for more than two hours will also be restricted from boarding a passenger flight for Hong Kong.

City AM reported that the city state recorded 38 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday (January 5), after going three months without community cases until December 31.

The UK Foreign Office website has updated its advice to say: “For a two-week period starting at 00.01am on 8 January, travellers who have visited the UK (or 7 other designated countries) within the past 21 days will not be permitted to enter Hong Kong or transit through Hong Kong International Airport.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Cathay Pacific has announced “immediate major cuts” to its flight schedule, including cancelling passenger and cargo services to and from Hong Kong.

The flag-carrier of Hong Kong said it would operate a skeleton passenger schedule in January.

“It comes after Hong Kong announced tighter Covid-19 quarantine rules for air cargo crew earlier this week,” said the BBC.

Cathay pilots have previously told the BBC the restrictions have affected their mental health and personal lives.

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