Hong Kong, November 21: A day before the planned launch of Hong Kong-Singapore air bubble, the project has been interimly suspended due to a sudden COVID-19 spike in the southern Chinese city. The authorities in Hong Kong, where 36 new local coronavirus infections were reported, said the project was postponed for at least two weeks.
The decision to delay the air bubble operation comes as a major setback for both the regions. The economies of Hong Kong and Singapore have been battered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recovery in sight is heavily dependent upon the resumption of tourism and air travel. Hong Kong Bans Air India Flights For 5th Time After Some Passengers Test COVID-19 Positive.
The two governments had worked out an air bubble module, which was set to be operational from Sunday. This would had allowed travellers in Singapore and Hong Kong to visit both the nations, provided that they are produce a COVID-19 negative certificate before boarding the flights.
The detection of 36 new infections -- way above the single-digit per day cases being recovered over the past several weeks -- forced the Hong Kong government to postpone the air bubble project for 14 days, said the island-city's commerce secretary Edward Yau.
"In the light of recent surge of local cases we have decided, together with the Singapore government, to defer the air travel bubble's launch by two weeks," he was reported as saying.
Out of the 36 new coronavirus patients, the source of transmission in 13 cases could not be traced. This has led to a panic among authorities, said reports, as the city could brace for another round of an out-of-control wave of infections.
Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung lauded his counterpart in Hong Kong for taking the timely decision of temporarily suspending the air bubble scheme. "This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs," Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung wrote on his Facebook page.