Hong Kong has imposed travel restrictions on Maldives, hours after the country confirmed its first case of Omicron – a new and potentially more contagious COVID-19 variant.
Maldives confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on Sunday; a tourist who arrived from South Africa on November 21. The sample taken from the tourist was in a batch of samples sent overseas for genomic sequencing on November 30.
Following the discovery of the case, Hong Kong has added Maldives to Category A – the list of high-risk countries.
With the decision, non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed in Maldives within the last 21 dayswill not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents who are fully vaccinated will be allowed entrance to Hong Kong, but will be subject to 21 days of quarantine at a designated hotel.
The restrictions take effect at 00:00 hours on December 9.
Omicron, first reported from South Africa on November 24, has been classified by World Health Organization (WHO) as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant Delta variant.
The variant has been detected in 46 countries so far.
With the discovery of the new variant in Maldives, Health Protection Agency has urged the public to adhere to protective measures including wearing a mask and social distancing. People who show symptoms have been urged to get tested at flu clinics.
Maldives imposed new travel restrictions following the emergence of Omicron last week. Entrance of tourists from seven southern African countries - South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini – has been banned, while locals and work-permit holders arriving from the countries are required to quarantine.
No additional travel restrictions have been imposed yet, though cases have also been reported in several European countries that are top source markets for tourist arrivals to Maldives, since then.