Hong Kong Authorities have banned Air India from flying to the city for two weeks after a spike in positive Covid-19 cases brought to the city on board their flights.
Air India is now banned from flying to Hong Kong for the coming two weeks, hopefully resulting in the carrier to develop better safety protocols.
SCMP reported today that this is the first time an airline receives a ban like this.
Air India has been banned from flying to Hong Kong for two weeks for carrying too many passengersinfected with Covid-19, the Post has learned.
The government acted after linking 11 imported cases on an Air India flight from Delhi on August 14 to poor preflight testing for the virus.
Officials invoked an emergency public health regulation to penalise an airline for this offence for the first time.
Air India plays a key role in flying thousands of Hong Kong residents stranded in the South Asian nation, and its ban will increase the stress on people who have waited months to return. …
“The fact 11 passengers tested positive on the same flight shows the lab tests back in India are not very reliable,” a government source said. “The airline has to do deep cleaning [on its planes] and make sure it won’t happen again on future flights before they can be resumed.”
The government moved to suspend the flight for two weeks, from August 18 to 31, by invoking the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation.
The flight from New Delhi, which arrived last Friday, included 11 people with the coronavirus, despite strict preflight virus testing and certification requirements.
Thousands of Hong Kong residents remain stranded in India, having waited months for charter flights to be given permission to operate. However, those flights have been slow to get started.
I’m surprised there are that many HK Residents stuck in India. I’m assuming these are people with a HKID and residence permit but not actual HK citizens?
If Hong Kong is really concerned about this maybe it would be safer letting Cathay Pacific carry out these flights after developing a proper safety protocol. Of course if the underlying issue is that a test that has to be presented at the airport has been incorrect due to unreliable lab work in India then there is very little an airline can do.
Hong Kong has seen a few additional spikes in cases recently and has been widely known for running a rigorous safety and testing mechanism for those returning to the city. A positive case would be detected quickly and then isolated, however the point of implementing a pre-flight safety protocol is to avoid having people on the plane that are definitely positive.
It appears that right now this is a challenge for passengers departing from India seeking to provide a negative test report. Even if their intentions are the best, if the lab that prepares and certifies the test results is unreliable it’s a waste of time and money.