Hong Kong bans travelers from South Korea after coronavirus spike, local infections up to 81

Arrivals Hall A at Hong Kong International Airport. Photo via Flickr/Gary Danvers.
Arrivals Hall A at Hong Kong International Airport. Photo via Flickr/Gary Danvers.

Travelers from South Korea who aren’t Hong Kong residents are now barred from entering the SAR as the country experiences a spike in coronavirus cases.

At a press briefing on Monday evening, Security Secretary John Lee confirmed that Hong Kong residents returning from South Korea will be exempted from the travel ban, but will be placed under medical surveillance for 14 days, while those returning from virus-hit areas such as Daegu and North Gyongsang will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated center.

The new measures came into effect at 6am this morning, and the Security Bureau have also issued a red outbound travel alert — the second highest alert, after black, of the three travel risk categories — for South Korea.

Lee said that the red alert will “let Hong Kong people think really carefully whether their visit to Korea is avoidable; try not to go, right? Unless it’s really necessary.”

He said that the red alert will “reduce, first of all, the number of Hong Kong people who may be returning to Hong Kong after visiting Korea, that will reduce the number of people who’ll need to be examined carefully at the airport, and this measure is for the benefit of people who are planning to visit Korea and also for Hong Kong people at large.

Other countries in the red alert category include Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, and the southeastern provinces of Turkey. The only black alert currently in effect is for Syria.

According to South Korea’s news agency Yonhap, Korea reported 60 new cases of coronavirus this morning, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 893. So far, South Korea has reported eight deaths from the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the number of infections in Hong Kong continues to creep upwards. Health officials confirmed at a press conference on Monday afternoon that five more people had been confirmed to have COVID-19, two of them from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and two of them from a Buddhist temple in North Point where a cluster of cases has emerged.

Last night, the Centre for Health Protection confirmed that two more cruise ship passengers — a man and a woman, both 57-years-old — had also tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the SAR to 81.

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