In a move this morning, as reported by the South China Morning Post, US-based carrier United Airlines, has once again decided to postpone resumption of services to Hong Kong due to a Covid-19 testing requirement now being imposed on incoming airline crew members, which went into effect from 8 July.
Pilot Union’s Concerns over Testing
The move by United Airlines came following concerns from the Pilot’s Union of the airline, who were worried about how the Coronavirus tests would be conducted on crew in Hong Kong. In a statement about the cancellation of returning to the country on 8 July (scheduled from San Francisco to Hong Kong), a spokesperson for the airline said:
“Flights to Hong Kong are postponed to the 10th, and we are currently assessing the impact of testing measures in Hong Kong on our future operations”
The Hong Kong Government has reiterated its stance on the testing requirement, stating there were 24 Covid-19 cases in the country on 8 July, of which 5 were imported from outside the country according to local media reports. The Government’s Health Official further added that they could not track the direct imported source of these recent cases, which increased the country’s risk to a significant outbreak and potential second-wave of infections.
What are the rules for this testing?
Following the implementation on 8 July, the Government released guidance about the methodology of testing, and the several port control measures that will be put in place to prevent further imported cases from overseas. These include:
- Returnees From ‘High-Risk’ Areas: “The Hong Kong government will discuss with the consuls to arrange the return of Hong Kong people from high-risk regions in an orderly manner to control the number of imported cases. These high-risk areas include Pakistan, India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Nepal.”
- Cargo and Passenger Ships: “The shippers are required to arrange testing for all crew members at the departure place before they can arrive in Hong Kong. Violators may be refused to enter.”
- Airline Crews: “From July 8, all crew members must undergo a deep-throat saliva samples before entry permit.”
It is unknown at the present time, what course of action will be taken against those who test positive, and how they will be forced to quarantine in the country. We will publish updates as we receive them.
United Airlines aren’t the only airline with concerns over the program either: American Airlines has also released a statement that they will “Delay [their] plan to resume Hong Kong routes until August”, though they did not specify directly the reason or concerns in doing so. So how do you feel about this new measure? Let us know below!