Two former Cathay Pacific flight attendants jailed for 8 weeks for breaching Hong Kong’s Covid quarantine rules

Two former Cathay Pacific Airways flight attendants on Thursday were each sentenced to eight weeks in jail for breaching Covid-19 quarantine rules in Hong Kong while infected with the highly contagious Omicron variant.

They were thought to be responsible last year for sparking one of the earliest clusters in the city’s fifth and most severe wave of infections.

Wong Yoon-loong and Nilsson Lau Kok-wang, both 45, were initially jailed for nine weeks. But the court gave each of them a discount of a week, citing “valid mitigation” in losses in employment and associated benefits.

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Former Cathay flight attendants convicted of breaching Hong Kong’s Covid rules

Magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu on Thursday said the case was serious because the pair had already been exempted from self-isolation, but had abused their rights and privileges and carried out “totally unnecessary activities” infecting nine members of the public.

Eastern Court had remanded them in custody since last month, pending sentencing, noting that their offences were serious and warranted immediate imprisonment.

They stood trial in August and October on a total of three counts of failing to observe the conditions specified by a health officer, after their guilty pleas were rejected by the court.

The two ex-employees of the city’s flag carrier late last year received a 21-day medical monitoring notice after they returned from the United States for their Christmas holidays.

Former Cathay cabin crew member Nilsson Lau. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

The court earlier heard they were told to stay at home until they cleared Covid-19 tests on the third day after arrival in Hong Kong. The only exceptions were to carry out “necessary activities”, such as going to test centres.

However, they were found to have left their homes to visit friends and, later, to have caught the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Wong claimed he had been misled by the airline’s internal guidelines, which purportedly did not ban such activities during the first two weeks of quarantine.

Hong Kong court rejects Cathay employees’ guilty plea for Covid quarantine breach

But in his verdict, Magistrate Wong said it was incredible and unreasonable for the two to argue they had an urgent need to visit friends and eat in restaurants before they knew the test results.

As of Wednesday, Hong Kong had recorded 2,118,245 coronavirus infections and 10,731 related deaths.

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