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Hong Kong suspends flights connecting India, Pakistan, Philippines

Hong Kong has suspended all flights connecting it with India from 20 April to 3 May amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, aviation industry sources said on 18 April. They said the Hong Kong government has also suspended flights to and from Pakistan as well as the Philippines for the aforementioned time period.

The Hong Kong government’s decision has come after 50 passengers of two Vistara flights this month were found positive for Covid-19 when tested on arrival. According to rules, all passengers who want to come to Hong Kong need to have a Covid-negative RTPCR result with them from a test done 72 hours prior to the journey.

Earlier, on 18 April, the Hong Kong government announced suspension of all Vistara flights on Mumbai-Hong Kong route till 2 May. This decision was taken as three passengers on Vistara’s Mumbai-Hong Kong flight on 18 Aril tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival. Till Sunday, total 47 passengers who were on Vistara’s Delhi-Hong Kong flight of 4 April have tested positive for Covid-19 in Hong Kong. Vistara’s flights on Delhi-Hong Kong route had earlier been banned from 6 April to 19 April.

The three countries would be classified as “extremely high risk” after there had been multiple imported cases carrying the strain into Hong Kong in the past 14 days, the government said.

The city reported 30 new coronavirus cases on 18 April, 29 of which were imported, marking the highest daily toll since 15 March. Hong Kong has recorded over 11,600 cases in total and 209 deaths.

Hong Kong authorities have been urging residents to get vaccinated for coronavirus with only around 9% of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents vaccinated so far.

Vistara did not respond to media request for a statement on the matter. A record single-day rise of 2,61,500 coronavirus infections has taken India’s case tally to 1,47,88,109, while active cases have surpassed the 18-lakh mark, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on 18 April. The death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 AM showed.

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