The Hong Kong government expanded its entry restrictions to require mandatory 14-day home quarantine for travelers from 31 countries. From 00:00 (local time) on Tuesday, March 17, all individuals traveling from South Korea and the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) will be required to undergo a 14-day home-quarantine. Similarly, from 00:00 on Thursday, March 19, individuals from Ireland, the UK, the US, and Egypt will also be required to undergo a 14-day home-quarantine. Meanwhile, individuals that have traveled from Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in South Korea, Iran, or the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto regions in Italy will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility. Foreign nationals that have traveled to Hubei province (China) or South Korea in the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to Hong Kong will be denied entry to the territory.
A previous directive implemented on Saturday, March 14, had ordered 14-day home-quarantine for travelers from Italy, Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and Grand Est (France), North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Hokkaido (Japan), and La Rioja, Madrid, and Basque Country (Spain). Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 10, that the measures and travel restrictions in place are being reviewed on an almost daily basis, and warned that more restrictions are possible in the near term.
Authorities previously announced that schools will remain closed until Monday, April 20, at the earliest.
As of March 17, Hong Kong has confirmed 148 cases of COVID-19 and four associated fatalities. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.