Plans to introduce a quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore, which was scheduled for late May, will most likely be delayed after the Lion City saw a surge in infections involving the new Indian COVID-19 variant,said Hong Kong authorities.
Singapore’s Minister of Transport Ong Ye Kung told the Hong Kong government that it was unlikely the plan could commence on May 26 as scheduled, Secretary for Commerce Edward Yau said on Friday.
The government will review the plan with Singapore authorities the following week, Yau told a press briefing, adding that the authorities would let the public know of developments as soon as possible.
The travel bubble between the two Asian financial hubs had initially been set for last November, with leaders in both cities eager to resume cross-border economic activity amid the global disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. That plan was derailed due to the fourth outbreak wave in Hong Kong.
Under the current agreement, the bubble would be suspended for 14 days if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of cases is more than five for either Singapore or Hong Kong.
“The Singaporean government has raised concerns about whether [the number of confirmed diagnoses] may exceed the upper limit as mentioned in the mechanism,” Yau said.
Singapore’s health authorities on Thursday reported 34 new confirmed cases, many of which were of the Indian B.1.617 variant strain and 19 linked to a cluster that originated at Changi Airport. It was the highest daily jump since mid-September last year.
Cathay Pacific said it is closely monitoring the development of the outbreak, and will notify passengers as soon as possible if there is any relevant update.
The Hong Kong flagship airline and Singapore Airlines will be the carriers for the maiden flights.
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