Hong Kong will temporarily ban flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 14 days beginning Tuesday after a rise in Covid-19 cases in those countries.
“India, Pakistan, and the Philippines all had seven-day cumulative number of relevant cases that reached the relevant criteria in the past 14 days, and the Government will therefore invoke the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for these three places,” a government spokesman said.
The N501Y mutation was detected for the first time in Hong Kong, prompting the temporary ban “on places where there had been imported cases confirmed by arrival tests that carried the N501Y mutant strain,” the spokesman added.
Two coronavirus variants first identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom share a mutation known as N501Y that scientists worry could allow the virus to evade the immune protection generated by a vaccine.
Hong Kong has some of the world’s strictest coronavirus travel restrictions, including mandatory 21 days hotel quarantine for many travelers arriving in the Chinese territory.
The city has reported a total of 11,684 Covid-19 cases and 209 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.
India reported 273,810 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, a record-high and its fifth consecutive day of more than 200,000 new infections, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Indian Ministry of Health.
The country has reported more than 1 million cases in the past five days alone.
The health ministry also reported 1,619 new deaths, the highest in almost 10 months.
As cases skyrocket, New Delhi is facing a severe shortage of Intensive Care Unit beds available for Covid-19 patients. Only 73 beds with ventilators were available in India’s capital as of Sunday, according to government documents.
“Patients are getting admitted to hospitals at a fast pace. Especially for ICU beds, there is now a shortage. There are less than 100 ICU beds left across Delhi,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said during a press conference Sunday.
Indians have gathered en masse this month during the country’s month-long Kumbh Mela festival, where hundreds of thousands of people take a dip in the River Ganges.
The massive crowds are causing concern as India struggles to contain a worrying second wave, with cases rising dramatically every day.
India has recorded a total of 15,061,919 cases of coronavirus and 178,769 deaths, according to the health ministry.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks children of virtually any age should be able to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the first quarter of 2022 and that people need to continue wearing masks.
Fauci reiterated a point he has previously made, that he would be surprised if high school kids can’t be vaccinated by the fall term.
“I think by the time we get to the first quarter of 2022, we’ll be able to vaccinate children of virtually any age, hopefully before then, but I think that’s going to be the latest we’ll see it,” he told CNN.
Some context: Both Moderna and Pfizer are currently in trials looking at the vaccine in children 12 and younger. Pfizer has submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration for an expanded use of its vaccine for children 12-15. It is currently authorized for people 16 years of age and older.
Fauci then explained the reason why people need to continue to wear masks, even though they have gotten the vaccine.
Firstly, he said that when a person is vaccinated their risk of getting infected dramatically diminishes and is very low.
However, there is a situation where someone can get vaccinated, have no clinical disease, but still be infected without knowing it. They can then inadvertently transmit the virus to someone who has not been vaccinated.