Hong Kong has banned non-residents from entering the city from the Maldives, Senegal, and Tunisia effective today, adding to a fast-expanding list of countries facing travel restrictions due to concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The first Omicron case was confirmed in the Maldives last Sunday. As per the Health protection agency, the virus was detected from a genomic sequencing conducted on a positive sample of a tourist.

The three countries will be put into Group A specified places from December 9 to tighten the boarding and quarantine requirements for relevant inbound travelers. Non-Hong Kong residents who have stayed there within 21 days will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.

Residents can only board flights if fully vaccinated and will have to undergo 21-days of quarantine in a hotel at their own cost upon returning to Hong Kong, with six tests to be conducted during quarantine, followed by compulsory testing in a community testing center on the 26th day of arrival at Hong Kong. The relevant arrangements will take effect starting today.  

The latest COVID-19 variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa. It has now been reported that Omicron was already on Europe close to a week before South Africa made its discovery. The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled it a variant of concern on November 26th.

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