Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble postponed

People wait outside a Covid testing centre in Hong Kong on Sunday as a spike in Covid-19 cases brings in tighter restrictions and forces a planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore to be scrapped a day before its launch on Saturday. (AFP

Among other details, the Hong Kong administration had made mandatory for an airline operating a flight to Hong Kong from these countries to submit a form before departure, stating that all passengers onboard have COVID-19 negative certificates.

The figure included 13 locally transmitted infections whose source was untraceable, suggesting there may be super-spreaders in the city.

Yau said enacting the air travel bubble would be revisited early next month, Reuters reported.

"For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfil the condition of securing public health, and also making sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme", Yau said.

"Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to defer the launch of the ATB, by two weeks".

Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told reporters that both cities were "still considered low-risk".

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Under the initial agreement, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average.

Head of the CHP's Communicable Disease Branch Chuang Shuk-kwan said the new cases have been climbing rapidly in recent days and warned of the fourth wave of the epidemic outbreak.

Hong Kong has confirmed a total of 5,561 cases, including 108 deaths. At least 32 cases have been linked to this group, RTHK reported.

Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July. As per the country's protocol, all global passengers are supposed to go through COVID-19 test on landing at the airport.

Ong said in a Facebook post Saturday that the postponement is a "sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us".

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