Photo used for illustrative purposes.
Hong Kong will suspend flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 20 for two weeks after the N501Y mutant COVID-19 strain was detected in the Asian financial hub for the first time, authorities said in a statement late on Sunday.
The three countries would be classified as "extremely high risk" after there had been multiple imported cases carrying the strain into Hong Kong in the past 14 days, the government said.
The city reported 30 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, 29 of which were imported, marking the highest daily toll since March 15. Hong Kong has recorded over 11,600 cases in total and 209 deaths.
Hong Kong authorities have been urging residents to get vaccinated for coronavirus with only around 9% of Hong Kong's 7.5 million residents vaccinated so far.
The government last week widened the city's vaccine scheme to include those aged between 16 to 29 years old for the first time, as they aim to boost lacklustre demand for inoculations amongst residents.
Airlines impacted by Hong Kong's ban on travellers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines include carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, Vistara and Cebu Pacific.
British and Irish citizens and people who have residence rights in the UK can enter, as commercial flights are not banned. However, they must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at their own expense and must take a COVID-19 test on days two and eight of their self-isolation.
A government body dealing with the pandemic said the monthlong travel restrictions would start from Saturday and aim to prevent the spread into the country of coronavirus strains from other countries which are believed to be more contagious.
"It is not just a mission that brought back stranded and distressed citizens from around the world, but Vande Bharat has been a mission of hope and happiness, of letting people know that they will not be left behind even in the most testing times," Puri said.
India suspended all incoming and outgoing international flights as well as domestic air travel in the last week of March 2020 as part of a lockdown to combat COVID-19. Flights to and from India have since been resumed in a phased manner with about two-dozen countries under "air bubbles."
The Dubai Civil Defence’s operations room received a report at 3:58am on Saturday stating that a fire had erupted in the Marina Diamond 2 building in the Dubai Marina area.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Saturday approved Hatta Master Development Plan, which forms an integral part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.
Since the beginning of 2021, the campaign in Pakistan has succeeded in providing 75,148,404 doses of vaccination against polio, bringing the total number, provided by the campaign since 2014 and until 2021, to 583, 240,876 vaccination doses.