James TweedieAll materialsWrite to the authorThe two-week public health restrictions and urgent search across Hong Kong for contacts of the first suspected patient with the Omicron variant are aimed at containing the virus ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations on 1 February.Authorities in Hong Kong have ordered new COVID-19 restrictions over the first suspected case of the new Omicron variant in the Chinese territory.Government Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a two-week ban on flights from eight countries, including the UK, on Wednesday. She also ordered bars and gyms closed and restaurants to stop serving after 6pm.That was after a 42-year-old male resident tested positive for the virus, with health officials suspecting he has the new strain — the first individual to catch the virus from an unknown source for three months.
The autonomous territory’s government’s aim is to minimise the spread of the new variant ahead of Chinese New Year on February 1, in the hope that traditional celebrations can go ahead.
Authorities were conducting a rapid search for the man’s contacts in the city, while a recently-sailed Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” was ordered back to port over infection fears.The countries on the no-fly list are Britain — where the majority of global Omicron cases have been identified — the US, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Philippines, France, and India.Omicron COVID StrainEighteen Dead From Omicron in Denmark, Reports SayYesterday, 15:01 GMTOmicron has so far proven to be much more contagious than previous variants — while also causing far milder symptoms, comparable to a normal seasonal flu.
It was first identified in South Africa, with the first patient seen by South African Medical Association Chair Dr Angelique Coetzee, and is believed to have originated in neighbouring Botswana.Almost 300 million cases of COVID-19 and just under 5.5 million deaths with the virus have be recorded since the initial outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.