HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Hong Kong reported two new imported Covid-19 cases on Monday (May 3), the third consecutive day without any local infections, as the city's commerce chief said that it was "all set" for the Air Travel Bubble with Singapore.
The two cases involved a 30-year-old woman from Indonesia and a 36-year-old man from Russia, according to a statement issued by the Centre for Health Protection. Both patients had no symptoms. Ther city's tally stood at 11,786.
From April 19 to Sunday, the city recorded 101 infections, 20 of which were locally transmitted and nine of unknown origin, the CHP said.
Passenger flights are expected to resume from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong this week after a ban of nearly six months in response to a virus variant found in Britain, according to media reports.
The decision to remove the ban was reportedly reached after the UK saw fewer new infections and a high vaccine take-up rate.
Speaking at APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Business Advisory Council Public-Private Dialogue on Monday, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said the Air Travel Bubble with Singapore is an “important milestone” and a “crucial step” for international travel.
“This Bubble is definitely an important milestone of border reopening, enabling a genuine return to pre-Covid cross-border travel -- no restrictions on travel purposes, no compulsory quarantine, no restrictions on itineraries - so long as travelers comply with a set of stringent health protocols, ” he said.
“We are now all set for the Bubble's inaugural flights in three weeks' time on May 26,2021, but we will of course continue to keep close watch on the situation; and there are mechanisms in place to cater for exceptional circumstances, ” he added.
Yau said these mechanisms include double tests before departure and upon arrival, dedicated flights, added safeguards on suspension and resumption criteria, just to name a few.
“The Hong Kong-Singapore Air Travel Bubble is not just a crucial step to border reopening for the two places, but also an important leap for international safe, and quarantine-free travel resumption.
"I look forward to expanding this bubble arrangement with our trading partners with similar success in containing Covid in the months ahead, ” he said.
Yau said that the HKSAR government was also engaging other potential travel bubble partners overseas while working towards gradual resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland.
“On the multilateral front, there are a number of initiatives to create digital health passes on testing and vaccination records to facilitate international travel, for example, CommonPass, IATA (the International Air Transport Association) Travel Pass, AOKpass and the health code of Mainland China. They are at different stages of readiness for application, ” he said.
“At our end, we are working to ensure that travelers can use them to come to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong will be able to serve them as an international hub.
"Already in Hong Kong, our residents can keep an electronic record of their Covid test results and vaccine jabs on our own digital platform, the 'iAM Smart mobile app. We will see how this app can eventually integrate with various digital health passes, ” he added.- China Daily/Asia News Network