Hong Kong authorities have announced that the UK will be added to the list of high-risk travel countries from Thursday, October 1. The decision was made following a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases being reported in the UK. Ten countries are already designated as high-risk travel countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, and the US. Travelers from these countries are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. They must also self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival and must have a hotel reservation for the 14-day quarantine period. They will be tested on arrival and if the test is negative they can proceed to their hotel. Those arriving from countries not on the high-risk list also have to self-isolate for 14 days and take a test on arrival but are not required to provide proof of a negative test taken prior to departure. These measures predominantly affect returning Hong Kong residents, as nonresident nationals remain banned from entering the territory, with some exceptions.
Current domestic COVID-19 restrictions in Hong Kong have been extended until at least October 1. Public gatherings remain limited to four people and face masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, including on public transport. Restaurants are permitted to open until 23:59 (local time). Bars, amusement parks, swimming pools, karaoke lounges, and other entertainment businesses can operate with strict capacity limits and distancing measures in place.
As of Thursday, September 24, there have been 5049 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong and 104 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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