Hong Kong has issued a red outbound travel alert for all countries and territories other than mainland China, Macau and Taiwan amid a surge in global coronavirus cases.

All visitors including Hong Kong residents travelling in from areas listed under the travel alert will also be required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine from Thursday onwards.

Carrie Lam Chief Executive coronavirus travel alert
Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to the press on March 17. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Speaking ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the measures were aimed at deterring residents from leaving the city.

Hong Kong has already issued red travel alerts – urging members of the public to avoid non-essential travel – for countries in the Schengen area of Europe as well as the US, UK and Ireland.

Asked why travellers from the mainland were excluded from the measure, Lam said the red outbound travel alert had always been applicable to regions outside of China: “That does not mean we are not curbing potential imported cases from China. As early as two months ago, we had been implementing measures to lower such risks, such as closing all [but] three border checkpoints.”

China’s Neighbors Respect Rights to Combat Coronavirus - Taiwan, Hong Kong Show Benefits of Open Societies human rights watch maya wang
File photo: GovHK.

“We have extended the travel restrictions to the world because the outbreak has evolved into a global pandemic,” she added.

First detected in China’s Hubei province, Covid-19 has now infected more than 182,500 people with 7,100 deaths across at least 162 countries and territories globally. Hong Kong has confirmed 157 cases of infection and four deaths, while China has recorded at least 80,881 cases and 3,226 deaths related to the virus.