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Homeland Security

US, Hong Kong Announce Travel Restrictions as Delta Variant Spreads

By VOA News June 28, 2021

The United States raised travel advisories Monday to a number of African countries and the UAE, while Portugal, Spain and Hong Kong announced new restrictions on travelers from Britain as countries struggle to contain the spread of the delta variant, first detected in India.

Hong Kong announced Monday it will ban all passenger flights from Britain beginning Monday, as Britain is recording that nearly 95% of its COVID-19 cases are of the delta variant.

According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Britain recorded over 14,000 new cases of the coronavirus just in the past day. Recently, the country relaxed some restrictions as roughly 48% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Several of Britain's top defense personnel are in self-isolation after attending a meeting last week with General Nick Carter, head of Britain's armed forces, who has tested positive for COVID-19. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and the heads of the Royal Navy, RAF and Strategic Command are now in self-isolation after Carter's positive test results.

The U.S. State Department announced Monday that it had raised travel advisories to the UAE, Liberia, Uganda, Mozambique and Zambia to Level 4 — "Do not travel" — due to their increasing rates of COVID-19 infections.

The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, announced Monday that a broad range of public spaces would soon be open only to those who have proof of vaccination. Moscow announced similar measures Monday, particularly in its restaurants and cafes, as the capital faces a new surge in infections.

Surge in South Africa

South Africa is also experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections. Health officials reported 15,000 new cases Sunday and 122 deaths.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday the delta variant is the likely culprit behind the outbreak.

New restrictions due to the explosion of cases include a ban on all public gatherings except funerals, which will be limited to 50 people. Liquor sales will also be prohibited, and an extended nightly curfew will go into effect.

Gauteng province had 66% of the new infections, officials said. Authorities fear the other provinces will soon experience an uptick in cases.

"Let us call on every bit of strength we have. Let us summon our reserves of courage and hold firm until this wave, too, passes over us," Ramaphosa said in a national broadcast Sunday.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said early Monday the global count for COVID-19 cases is more than 181 million. The U.S. has the highest number of cases at 33.6 million, followed by India with more than 30 million, and Brazil with more than 18 million.

Fines in Australia

Sydney, Australia, is currently under lockdown as it contends with a growing COVID-19 outbreak. Two people who ignored the restriction to go sunbathing got more than they bargained for. The nude pair, according to an Agence France-Presse report, were "startled" by a deer, leading the scofflaws to run into the bushland of the Royal National Park to escape the animal. The men called authorities for help.

Officials say one man was found on a walking track "naked and carrying a backpack." The other man was found later partially clothed.

"By leaving home without a proper reason ... and then getting lost in the national park and diverting important resources away from the health operation, I think they should be embarrassed," New South Wales State Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said. "It's difficult to legislate against idiots."

The men were fined $760 for ignoring Sydney's stay-at-home orders.

This report includes information from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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