Visitors from Finland, Norway, Korea, Ghana and Saudi Arabia who are not Hong Kong residents will be barred from the city from Sunday, as the government adds more countries to its Omicron watchlist.

coronavirus virus mask airport
File photo: Passengers with masks, GovHK.

The five countries were put under Group A, meaning they have detected imported Omicron cases, the Food and Health Bureau announced on Thursday.

Hong Kong residents who stayed in these countries may only book flights to return if they are fully vaccinated. They will also be required to undergo 21 days of hotel quarantine upon arrival.

South Africa reported the world’s first case of the more infectious Omicron variant on 24 November.

As of Tuesday, 33 countries have announced new travel restrictions. Among them, Israel and Japan have banned foreigners from all parts of the world.

Research on the effectiveness of available vaccines against the heavily mutated virus is underway.

Hong Kong International Airport travel immigration emigration
File Photo: A family at Hong Kong Airport, Candice Chau/HKFP.

“Noting that the detection of imported Omicron cases was confirmed in Finland, Ghana, Korea, Norway and Saudi Arabia, the Government will specify these places as Group A specified places from 0.00am on December 5,” a spokesperson said.

Additionally, the government will begin to require all transit passengers – aside from those from Macau and mainland China – to present negative test results collected within 72 hours ahead of boarding a flight for Hong Kong.

The additional requirement will be in effect from next Wednesday.

Lam Tin lockdown

On Thursday, Hong Kong’s health authorities put a residential block in Lam Tin under overnight lockdown. Around 1,100 residents were tested but no confirmed cases were found.

People who stayed at the public housing estate for more than two hours from November 4 to Thursday were required to undergo testing, due to a preliminary positive imported case involving the Delta variant being detected.

Health authorities said the 28-year-old woman tested negative when leaving for the US last month, but her test result was positive when she returned on Wednesday.

“In view of the presence of a mutant strain, the Government decided to make a restriction-testing declaration for On Kin House,” a government press release said.

yau ma tei jordan covid lockdown PPE virus test
File Photo: Health Official, Galileo Cheng/HKFP.

Three who had been to the neighbourhood were found to have not been tested on Friday morning – they were sent a compulsory testing notice.

The patient’s workplace in Central was also included in the compulsory testing order as she last went to work there on November 19.

Fifty cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the past two weeks, all of which were imported.

As of midnight on Friday, the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases in Hong Kong was 12,448 and the cumulative number of deaths was 213.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.