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Hong Kong bans transit flights from over 150 countries

Aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. on the tarmac at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong International Airport said Friday that it would ban passengers from over 150 countries and territories from transiting in the city for a month, as it sought to stem the transmission of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Passengers who have stayed in over 150 places deemed “high risk” in the last 21 days, including the United States and Britain, will be banned from transiting in Hong Kong from Jan. 16 to Feb. 15, according to a notice posted by the airport.

The ban comes as the city grapples with an omicron outbreak, with most of the cases traced to two crew members of Cathay Pacific who had broken isolation rules and dined at restaurants and bars in the city before testing positive.

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Over 50 local infections have been reported in the community since the end of 2021. Prior to that, Hong Kong went three months with no community transmissions and had been in talks with the mainland to resume quarantine-exempted travel with the rest of China.

Last week, Hong Kong imposed a two-week ban on incoming flights from the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Britain, India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The city has also banned dining in after 6 p.m. and ordered venues such as museums, cinemas, gyms and libraries to close.

Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-tolerance” COVID-19 policy, with authorities intent on stamping out all outbreaks with sometimes draconian measures.