Hong Kong suspends passenger arrivals from Indonesia due to COVID-19

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Tourism in Hong Kong has suffered from a double whammy of political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Use this oneThe government of Hong Kong announced that it will suspend passenger flights from Indonesia starting Friday (June 25) after it said arrivals from the Southeast Asian country present an “extremely high risk” for spreading COVID-19. The Hong Kong government said late on Wednesday it was suspending flights after the number of imported COVID-19 cases from Indonesia crossed thresholds set by the global financial hub.

Hong Kong has already banned arrivals from India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines, using a flight suspension rule triggered when there are five or more passengers who test positive for one of the variant Covid-19 cases on arrival, or 10 or more passengers found to have any strain of the disease while in quarantine. The Chinese special administrative region has recorded more than 11,800 cases and 210 deaths due to the coronavirus. Most of the city’s recent cases over the past month have been imported.

Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Hong Kong’s ban was “temporary” and that migrant workers affected by the new regulation should contact their employers and agents.

Current health regulations in Hong Kong stipulate that a country-specific flight suspension will be imposed when a total of five or more travellers from the same place, regardless of the airline, test positive for a mutated COVID-19 strain on arrival within a seven-day period. The statement said that the number of imported cases from Indonesia with more infectious virus variants had now reached the threshold to trigger those restrictions.

Any traveller who has spent more than two hours in Indonesia in the previous 21 days will be denied entry to Hong Kong; returning residents and citizens are not exempt from the ban. The move was announced shortly after Hong Kong’s Centre of Health Protection reported a preliminary positive case in the community involving the Delta variant, breaking the territory’s 16-day streak of no local cases. This patient is an unvaccinated 27-year-old airport worker who previously had contact with incoming cargo flight crews, reportedly from a Southeast Asian airline. Due to the local epidemic situation in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines, the Hong Kong government says the entry ban and flight suspension for these four countries will remain in place.

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