The Hong Kong government is set to impose mandatory quarantine on anyone arriving from coronavirus-hit Italy as well as regions of France, Spain, Germany and Japan from Saturday onwards.

The newly-introduced measures came after a spike in Covid-19 infections across Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Grand Est in France, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, and Hokkaido in Japan. Italy has been placed under a nationwide lockdown following more than 9,000 cases of infection. Arrivals from La Rioja, Madrid and Pais Vasco in Spain will also be quarantined.

traveller HK AIRPORT
A traveller in the Hong Kong International Airport. File photo: GovHK.

As of Monday, more than 4,000 people have died from the disease worldwide, including 463 in Italy – making it worst-hit country after China, where the virus was first detected.

The travel ban will come into effect on Saturday at midnight, according to a government on Tuesday night.

“The assessment will take into account factors such as the number, distribution and rate of increase of infected persons, measures put in place for surveillance and control of the outbreak, and the frequency of visits by Hong Kong residents,” a statement from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said. “The Government will review and adjust the measures in view of the developments.”

There were no restrictions announced on arrivals from India, though the CHP noted that a tour group visiting from Hong Kong had become infected. It recommended avoiding non-essential travel to areas outside of the city.

Hong Kong mask coronavirus goggles
Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

Hong Kong currently bans visitors from South Korea, where more than 7,500 cases have been recorded, and China’s Hubei – the epicentre of the outbreak.

Mandatory 14-day quarantine rules for arrivals from other parts of China and Iran, as well as Hong Kong residents returning from South Korea, remain unchanged.

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.