In its stepped-up efforts to prevent the new coronavirus variant from spreading, Hong Kong has just announced that it is extending a compulsory quarantine to 21 days for all visitors arrive from outside China starting today.

Hong Kong is also banning all people who have stayed in South Africa in the past 21 days.

Hong Kong has already banned all flight arriving from the United Kingdom since Monday, after the UK found a new and more transmissible strain of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, two students who returned from the UK were said to have likely been infected with the new virulent strain.

“Noting the drastic change of the global pandemic situation with the new virus variant found in more countries, there is a need for the government to introduce resolute measures immediately … to ensure that no case would slip through the net even under very exceptional cases where the incubation period of the virus is longer than 14 days,” a government spokesman said on Friday midnight.

It added that there will be designated quarantine hotels for those coming into Hong Kong.

This move was based on expert advice that the incubation period of the new variant could be longer than 14 days in some people, so passengers will now have to extend their quarantine.

Only travelers arriving from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be exempt from the tighter restrictions.

Several countries have already implemented stricter regulations against the UK and South Africa due to the cases of the more infectious variant.

Aside from Hong Kong, countries such as Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany and Belgium suspended travel for Britons earlier this week.

The new coronavirus variant was first recorded in the UK in September. By November, it was responsible for about one-quarter of the new cases in London and by the middle of this month, it was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the cases.

Scientists from UK’s New and Emerging Respiration Virus Threats Advisory Group said the new variant had swiftly become the dominants train in the south of Britain, and could soon do the same across the country.

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