Hong Kong bans Nepal Airlines flights for the third timeThe carrier had been barred from entering Hong Kong after 12 passengers tested positive for Covid-19.
Nepal Airlines has been suspended from operating Kathmandu-Hong Kong flights for the third time after another batch of its passengers tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival.
The two-week ban will come into effect from Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported.
According to the Post, Director of Health Dr Constance Chan Hon-yee told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that the city confirmed 18 new coronavirus infections including three untraceable local ones, bringing the total to 5,407 Covid-19 cases so far, with 108 related deaths.
Among them, 15 confirmed cases were imported—seven people from Nepal, two from India, two from the United States, one each from Britain, Morocco and Ecuador, and a domestic worker from Indonesia.
“Nepal Airlines flights from Kathmandu would also be banned for the third time after 12 passengers on its service on Tuesday were found to be infected with Covid-19. Flights from the country’s capital would be banned for 14 days, starting from Thursday,” the Post reported.
“The government will also ramp up its crackdown on those airlines allowing the boarding of passengers from high-risk places who do not meet entry requirements, which include holding a negative virus test result and a valid hotel booking.”
Arrivals from outside China will also have to quarantine at hotels, rather than in their homes starting from November 13, as announced previously, the Post reported.
On October 3, six passengers on a Nepal Airlines flight to Hong Kong tested positive upon arrival. The carrier was issued a two-week suspension for violating Covid-19 norms by Hong Kong authorities.
Again on October 22, nine Nepal Airlines passengers, who had twice tested negative during their quarantine period, were among the 11 new Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. Authorities banned the carrier yet again, just four days after it had completed a two-week suspension on November 4.
Karishma Shrestha, spokesperson for Nepal Airlines, said that she was not aware of the decision by Hong Kong although she had heard about it on Wednesday evening. “The concerned department could have received a message from Hong Kong authorities.”
Shrestha said that Nepal Airlines had been discussing ways to prevent such incidents from recurring .
Last week, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal had raised questions about the credibility of private labs after Nepal Airlines passengers carrying Covid negative certificates tested positive at the destination airports.
Such 'false certificates' are bad for the national flag carrier as foreign governments may bar it for violating Covid-19 norms, the regulatory body said.
Nepal Airlines said that airports in the United Arab Emirates and Japan had also raised concern over the truthfulness of certification issued for passengers from Nepal.