World

Hong Kong bans non-resident arrivals over imported cases

HONG KONG:  Singapore is not the only country having to deal with imported coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong, too, has taken some tough measures. It will ban all non-residents from entering the city from tomorrow, its leader said.

Despite its proximity to China, the financial hub has managed to stave off a runaway outbreak of the deadly virus - partly thanks to the public overwhelmingly embracing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

Yet in the last fortnight, the number of cases has more than doubled to 356 after locals and foreign residents flooded back once the pandemic spread to Europe and North America.

Yesterday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a raft of measures designed to stop the upward trend.

"From midnight of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents flying in from overseas will not be allowed into the city," she said, adding the order would be in place for at least two weeks.

The city's airport - the world's eighth busiest - would also bar all transit passengers, Mrs Lam added.

Some 8,600 restaurants and bars with a licence will also be banned from selling alcohol but will, for now, be allowed to remain open.

Mrs Lam did not specify when the booze ban would be brought in but said emergency legislation was being drafted.

A cluster of infections was found among patients who had been out in Lan Kwai Fong, the nightclub street.

IN CHINA

Meanwhile, China on Sunday reported a drop in its daily tally of new cases, reversing four straight days of increases, as the capital, Beijing, ramped up measures to contain the number of infections arriving from abroad.

China had 39 new cases on Sunday, the National Health Commission said, down from 46 a day earlier.

All the new ones involved travellers arriving from abroad, many of them Chinese students returning home.

Beijing stepped up measures to contain imported infections, diverting all arriving international flights from yesterday to other cities, including Shanghai and as far west as Xian, where passengers will undergo virus screening.

Foreigners who miss international connections as a result of the measure will have to leave China, an immigration official said at the Health Commission's daily briefing.

The official added that foreign visitors should "think carefully" before choosing Beijing as a transit point. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD