Hong Kong Disneyland has closed down due to Covid-19 amid a surge in cases that have prompted the government to impose a new travel ban.
The theme park, a sprawling 310-acre site home to three hotels on Lantau Island, will be shuttered from Friday to January 20, Disney said today.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday the city was closing bars and gyms and cancelling evening restaurant dining after Omicron was detected in the international business hub.
Travel from eight countries is now barred for at least two weeks: Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States.
Lam will be under pressure from her Beijing overlords to ensure that any outbreak is stamped out in its tracks as China is pursuing an aggressive ‘zero Covid’ approach ahead of the Winter Olympics next month.
The theme park, a sprawling 310-acre site home to three hotels on Lantau Island, will be shuttered from Friday to January 20
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam (speaking on Tuesday) announced the city was closing bars and gyms and cancelling evening restaurant dining after Omicron was detected in the international business hub. Lam will be under pressure from her Beijing overlords to ensure that any outbreak is stamped out in its tracks as China is pursuing an aggressive ‘zero Covid’ approach ahead of the Winter Olympics next month.
Medical workers walk out of Causeway Tower after the building was locked-down over an Omicron outbreak linked to a Cathay Pacific flight
‘Starving’ residents of quarantined Chinese city desperately barter electronics for food – as ANOTHER city of 1.2million is locked down due to just THREE Covid cases
Residents of quarantined Chinese city Xian have been desperately bartering electronics for food amid worsening fears of shortages and starvation.
It comes as Yuzhou, a city of 1.2million in central China, was locked down on Tuesday after just three asymptomatic Covid-19 cases were recorded.
Xian’s 13 million residents have been confined to their homes since December 23 and are banned from leaving even for food and essential supplies, having to rely on local officials to drop off care packages.
But in recent days residents have taken to social media to voice concern over shortages, some said they were yet to receive aid from officials while others revealed they had resorted to bartering.
Photos and footage posted on Chinese social media site Weibo showed residents swapping a Nintendo Switch for instant noodles and steamed buns, cigarettes for a cabbage, sanitary pads for a small pile of vegetables and dishwashing liquid in exchange for apples.
State-media disputed the claims, posting pictures and footage of officials purporting to deliver bags of groceries to locked-down residents in December.
Other accounts also posted propaganda with pictures purporting to show lorries outside buildings in Xian and fridges stacked with fresh produce.
Xian, a popular tourist hub famed for its Terracotta Warriors, has reported 1,600 cases since December 9 – and although this may seem a small figure, Beijing is desperate to stamp out the virus ahead of the Winter Olympics next month.
Two Chinese cities, Xian and Yuzhou, are already under strict lockdown orders.
Hong Kong officials said a total of 114 cases of Omicron have been detected, with a small outbreak of community transmission traced to a Cathay Pacific flight.
But Lam said health officials feared the strain was silently spreading within the community.
The restrictions are the latest economic blow to a city that has kept cases low but left residents cut off from the rest of the world with tight border controls.
Like mainland China, Hong Kong has maintained some of the world’s harshest controls – including weeks-long quarantine periods, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.
To the north in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, at least 12 million residents were ordered to take Covid-19 tests Wednesday after just 11 Omicron cases were detected.
The central city is under a partial lockdown, joining millions more in the nearby cities of Xian and Yuzhou also living under stay-at-home orders.
But Xian’s case numbers fell to their lowest in weeks on Wednesday, with officials saying the outbreak had been ‘brought under control’.
‘The epidemic is showing a downward trend,’ said Ma Guanghui, deputy director of the health commission in Shaanxi province.
China has stuck to a rigid approach of stamping out Covid cases when they appear, with tight border restrictions and targeted lockdowns since Covid-19 first emerged in the country in 2019.
But with less than a month to go until the Olympics, a series of small outbreaks across the country has put the strategy under pressure.
The ‘zero Covid’ approach stands in marked contrast to the strategy employed by many Western nations that have chosen to live with the virus rather than return to severe restrictions.
The more relaxed policy has seen an explosion in case numbers in the West, with the United States reporting more than a million daily cases on Monday.
Britain breached 200,000 cases for the first time on Tuesday, Australia posted almost 50,000 and France registered more than 270,000, with all three countries easily topping their previous records.
President Emmanuel Macron warned people in France not yet vaccinated that he planned to make life difficult for them by limiting access to key aspects of life.
China has seen a recent spike in infections, the majority from the city of Xian, but the official figures remain very low
Residents of Zhengzhou in Henan province line up for nucleic acid testing following an outbreak of Covid-19 in the city
Health officials in full PPE stand beside busses and police cars in pictures uploaded to Chinese social media site Weibo from Xian
The government is seeking to push through legislation that will make vaccination compulsory for cultural activities, to use inter-city trains or visit a cafe, sparking a backlash among those opposed to further government edicts.
Vaccine policy sparked further anger in Australia, where world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic was given a medical exemption allowing him to play at this month’s Australian Open.
Tournament chief Craig Tiley said that the defending champion had been given ‘no special favour’.
But Stephen Parnis, a former Australian Medical Association vice-president, said it sent an ‘appalling message’ to people trying to stop the spread of the virus.
‘I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in,’ Parnis said on Twitter.