(Bloomberg) -- The detection of three imported cases of Covid-19 caused by the omicron variant in Hong Kong won’t affect the city’s reopening plans with mainland China, an official said.
Preparations for restoring streamlined cross-border travel are underway, said Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, during a press briefing on Monday. The city reported its third omicron infection in a 37-year-old traveler from Nigeria, on top of two cases found last week.
The reassurance came as a relief to many people who have been waiting for the border to reopen for business and family visits. The Asian financial hub has been laser focused on the mainland, implementing a tough quarantine system and maintaining a zero-tolerance approach that conforms to Beijing’s policies. The strategy has suppressed infections and deaths, but left both places isolated as the rest of the world -- including other Covid Zero proponents like Singapore and Australia -- opens up.
The government will tighten rules for airplane boarding and quarantine stays for people traveling from places affected by omicron, officials said at the briefing. They will all be deemed high-risk, meaning only Hong Kong residents can return. They will have to undergo more frequent tests and quarantine at government facilities for seven days before starting two weeks of isolation in a hotel. More details will be released.
“All three omicron cases were found in our existing border and quarantine regimes,” said Chan. “We are successful in that they didn’t enter the community.”
Among the three omicron cases detected in Hong Kong, two people had no symptoms and one has developed a sore throat.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.