Hong Kong halts India flights amid COVID-19 upsurge

Kolkata, India: As if the recent history is again repeating itself, Hong Kong has announced it will halt all its flights connecting India from Tuesday until May 3rd as the novel coronavirus cases skyrocket in India. 

Earlier Sunday, Mumbai-Hong Kong Vistara flights were canceled until May 2 because three passengers tested COVID-19 positive on-arrival.   

Last year, during the peak of the virus upsurge, countries around the world began suspending flights from countries hit hard by the pandemic, including the US, UK, Italy, and China in the initial stags. 

Due to the increase in infection cases, the Hong Kong government has also suspended flights to and from Pakistan as well as the Philippines for the aforementioned time span as a 'circuit-breaker mechanism. 

The moves come after Hong Kong confirmed the first two cases of a mutated coronavirus strain in the city over the weekend, adding to the city's efforts to completely tame the ongoing waves of Covid cases.

Officials are attempting to persuade skeptic people to get vaccinated, which is seen as critical to reopening the economy and reviving tourism, Bloomberg reported. 

The decision came because there have been five or more N501Y mutant coronavirus strains within seven days from the arrivals of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, the state government said.

According to media reports, the Hong Kong government's decision to halt India flights came after 50 passengers from the Vistara Airlines were tested COVID-19 positive on-arrival.

Hong Kong law states that all passengers traveling to Hong Kong must have a COVID-19-negative RT-PCR test result from a 72-hour prior test with them.

"These places will also at the same time be specified as extremely high-risk Group A specified places under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H), so as to restrict persons who have stayed in these places from boarding for Hong Kong.  The suspension will be effective for 14 days," the Hong Kong government said in a press release. 

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