It appears that the situation over at Hong Kong has only worsened, much to the chagrin of ticket-ready travellers.
Lest you’re unaware, Hong Kong authorities previously warned of a “worrying” trend of purportedly unlinked COVID-19 cases, as the nation struggles with more than 170 instances of respiratory illnesses.
On Friday (13 November 2020), the city’s total number of cases was brought up to 5,436, after six new COVID-19 cases were reported on the day itself. Of the six, two are imported cases, while the remainder involves two linked and unlinked cases.
Hong Kong COVID-19 Cases Getting ‘Severe’ As More Schools Are Closed
During that time, it was also announced that the government has called for the suspension of all face-to-face activities in kindergartens and childcare centres, effective from then to 27 November.
Should the situation fail to improve, the suspension may be extended.
However, it should be noted that schools were intended to remain open.
But it seems that mere days down the road, that jurisdiction, too, has taken a huge U-turn.
According to Channel News Asia, Hong Kong has since halted in-person classes for Primary 1 to 3 students, following a top health official’s declaration that the pandemic situation in the city was far from picking up.
In fact, it was deteriorating at a dangerous pace.
To put it into perspective, 26 new cases were confirmed on Friday (20 November 2020).
21 were local cases.
There are another 40 possible cases awaiting confirmation.
As such, the government has suspended lower primary classes for a total of two weeks, effective from Monday (23 November 2020).
Authorities have also requested for the citizens’ cooperation amidst these turbulent times.
“I would appeal to people to stop all unnecessary gathering activities because the situation is severe now in Hong Kong,” Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan said.
She added that Hong Kong might be experiencing a new wave of infections.
Which leads to the next question…
What About The Air Travel Bubble?
Lest you’re unaware, the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble was supposed to be launched on 22 Nov 2020 (Sunday).
The warning of a “worrying” trend, however, came one day after the announcement.
And now, the severity of the situation has only increased, one day before the purported launch.
On 20 Nov, it was reported that Singapore is now in contact with Hong Kong to discuss whether the air travel bubble will continue as planned.
In response to concerns from the members of the public in Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) says that they’re gathering the facts on the situation and will update on whether the ATB flights will take off on Sunday.
So yes, people might know whether they can fly on the day that they’re supposed to be flying.
Previously, CAAS has announced that if the 7-day moving average for unlinked COVID-19 cases is more than 5 in Singapore or Hong Kong, the travel bubble might end up getting suspended for two weeks.
Should that happen, ticket-holders may soon find themselves vying for a refund soon. After all, we’re not talking about the usual rates of $300 to $400. We’re talking ticket prices that are possibly in the thousands.
Which serves as a real double blow, considering how they have to put in extra effort and deal with a last-minute change in travel plans at the same time.
The air travel bubble can only resume when the daily average moving figure of unlinked cases on the last day of suspension is lesser than 5.
Update: Hong Kong-Singapore ATB Flights Will Proceed As Plan
The Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble flights will proceed as planned from 22 Nov 2020.
There will, however, be a slight change in the procedure for Hong Kong travellers coming into Singapore.
They will have to take the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival at Changi airport.
The test costs S$196 per traveller but the fees will be waived for the week from 22 to 28 Nov to give travellers a time period to adjust to the change.
After taking the test, travellers have to take private transport to a “declared place of accommodation” (hotel or home) to await their test results, which is estimated to take between six to eight hours.
Previously, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung had said that while Singapore only required 1 test for travellers coming here from Singapore, it’s “based on expert medical advice” given how Hong Kong’s virus incidence rate was “very low” at 0.5 infections per 100,000 people.
According to CAAS, more cases are expected to emerge in Hong Kong due to the “emergence of new clusters.”.
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