After Hong Kong police arrested more journalists from the now-defunct Apple Daily over the weekend, a sign that Beijing's crackdown on democratic freedoms under the guise of the new "national security" law isn't letting up, health authorities on Monday announced that they would bar travelers from the UK after reintroducing the UK to HK's list of "extremely high-risk" countries.
Two sources confirmed the decision to the SCMP, the biggest English-language newspaper in HK (it's also owned by Jack Ma, who is now officially under the CCP jackboot). The move comes just days after the city tightened quarantine rules for foreign visitors, and also after reports in the western press claimed Beijing plans to keep its borders closed to almost all foreign travelers until the second half of next year (with a handful of exceptions for countries with high vaccination rates).
Before ramping up the UK's designation to "extremely high risk", HK had already moved the UK to "very high risk", meaning travelers would need to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival, a quarantine term that would exclude all but the most essential business travel. Hong Kong health officials claim that over the past week, the country has recorded 14,876 new COVID-19 infections and 11 related deaths on Sunday.
Between June 21 and 27, a total of 104,052 people tested positive for Covid-19, accounting for a 58.7 per cent increase compared to the previous week. The latest COVID cases and arrivals from the UK, Indonesia and Namibia took the city’s overall tally of confirmed cases to 11,920 infections, with 211 deaths.
Authorities in Hong Kong are also worried about a recent domestic case: a 24-year-old employee at Uptown Mall who was found to be infected has got health authorities worried about a 5th COVID outbreak should the busy shopping center end up being a "super spreader" site.
Health officials believe the 27-year-old man may have caught the virus at an airport testing centre, as he shared the same viral footprint as three domestic workers who recently arrived from Indonesia. The building where the 24-year-old woman lives, block 10 of Tai Po Centre, was ordered into an overnight lockdown for mandatory virus screening on Sunday evening. Compulsory testing was also required of recent visitors to the mall. But the lockdown operation, which ended at about 8.30am, uncovered no cases among the approximately 390 residents screened during the night.
Health officials previously said their genome analysis showed the 24-year-old woman carried the more transmissible L452R strain, but without the N501Y or E484K mutations, making it likely to be a Delta variant.
In other HK news, another editorial writer from the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper was arrested at the airport on Sunday while attempting to flee the city.
Helps that most people only wanna go the other way— Justina Lee (@justinaknope) June 28, 2021
*HONG KONG TO BAN ALL PASSENGER FLIGHTS FROM U.K. FROM JULY 1
Beijing has denounced the UK's meddling as yet another example of the corrosive "foreign influence" that the new national security law - imposed on the territory last year by the CCP - prohibits.
Many pro-democracy supporters have fled to the UK, which has offered to naturalize any Hong Kongers fleeing Beijing's crackdown on the city's freedoms in violation of the international treaty that sets out the terms of Hong Kong's transition back under Chinese control. The battle over Hong Kong's fate has badly strained relations between the UK and Beijing. And now, with flights from the UK effectively eliminated, how much harder will it be for Hong Kongers to make a break for London?