Flights bubble exposed for at least two weeks after Hong Kong reports 43 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday.
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, originally scheduled to begin on Sunday, has been exposed amid a rise in infections in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
The air bubble, which was to boost tourism in both cities, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s Trade and Economic Development Minister Edward Yau said at a news conference on Saturday.
The event is intended to allow travelers between the two cities access without quarantine as long as they conduct coronavirus tests before and after arrival at their destinations and fly on designated flights.
Hong Kong reported 43 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, including 1
“For any scheme to succeed, they must meet the condition of ensuring public health and also make sure that both sides will be comfortable and feel secure with the scheme,” Yau said.
“Given the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back on for a while and then kind of restart it at an appropriate time.”
The plan will be revised in December, he added.
Under the original agreement, the travel bubble would have to be suspended if the number of detectable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is almost four, prompting Yau and Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung to postpone the initial flight.
On Friday, Hong Kong’s top health official said the city had “probably entered” a new wave of cases. New clusters have spanned taxi drivers, a dance studio and hotels.
Hong Kong has confirmed a total of 5,561 cases, including 108 deaths. Singapore has reported 58,148 cases, but only 28 deaths.
Prior to the postponement, Singapore said on Saturday morning that travelers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble will be required to take a coronavirus test upon arrival. Originally, only people who landed in Hong Kong were to be tested.
Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us”.
“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travelers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to postpone from a public health point of view, “he wrote.