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Omicron’s fear pushes Hong Kong to expand its travel limits; Australia has reported 5 cases to Reuters

© Reuters. People wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rode a bus in Hong Kong, China, on November 29, 2021. REUTERS / Lam Yik


By Marius Zaharia and Renju Jose

HONG KONG / SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong has lifted an entry ban for non-residents in several countries as global health authorities rushed to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant, and the Australian cabinet will review steps to maintain it on Tuesday after five positive trips. .

The Singapore Ministry of Health said two passengers from Johannesburg who were positive in the Sydney variant passed through its Changi airport.

Omicron – the World Health Organization (WHO) said the risk of infection is “very high” for the rise in infections – has raised a global alarm, overshadowing the economic recovery since the two-year pandemic.

However, he expects the variant to be lighter than expected, helping to restore calm in the markets on Friday after wiping out the value of global stocks of approximately $ 2 trillion. [MKTS/GLOB][FRX]

Traders also reassured President Joe Biden that the U.S. would not reinstate the blockades.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” Biden said in a statement to the White House.


Countries around the world have moved quickly to tighten border controls to ensure that last year’s severe blockades and severe economic downturns are not repeated.

In a statement late Monday, Hong Kong authorities said those not living in Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia had not been admitted since November 30.

“The most stringent requirements of the forties will be imposed on even the most important passengers coming from these places,” the statement said.

In addition, non-residents who have been in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel and Italy for the past 21 days will not be able to enter the city from December 2, he added.

The global financial center, one of the last places to pursue a zero-COVID strategy, has already banned residents from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

In Australia, all five passengers with Omicron are vaccinated and are in quarantine, health officials said, with no symptoms or very mild symptoms.

Authorities have also identified a sixth passenger who was probably infected with the variant and who spent time in the community.

Canberra on Monday delayed the reopening of national borders for international students and skilled migrants, who had to be allowed to return less than 36 hours earlier.

“We are doing this with caution, but our overall view is that (Omicron) is an emerging variant that is a manageable variant,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told the media.

Chart: Expansion of alarming variants of COVID-19-


It was first reported from South Africa on November 24, since Omicron has been rolled out to a dozen countries. Portugal found 13 cases at a football club in Lisbon. Spain, Sweden, Scotland and Austria also reported the first cases of the variant.

The WHO has called on countries to “use international risk-based approaches to adjust their travel measures.”

The United States has blocked access to most visitors from eight southern African countries, saying it will give the country time to get more people vaccinated.

Global borders, however, have raised concerns about the inequality of vaccines.

“People in Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccines in Africa – and should not be punished for identifying and sharing key science and health information with the world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

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