Nepal flights banned as virus concerns grow

Hong Kong has banned all flights from Nepal and barred travellers who’ve been to the country within the past two weeks from entering the SAR as concern continues over mutated strains of Covid-19.

Officials announced late on Thursday that, from Saturday, Nepal would be added to a list of extremely high-risk countries, with flights banned for at least two weeks.

A ban on flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, which was introduced on April 14, will also be extended.

The bans were introduced under the government’s flight suspension mechanism, which takes effect if five or more passengers from any place test positive on arrival for the N501Y mutant strain within seven days.

“As a more targeted measure in stopping the importation of the virus into Hong Kong at the source, the tightened flight suspension mechanism is an essential measure in protecting Hong Kong’s public health,” a government spokesman said.

The suspensions will be reviewed every two weeks and will not be lifted automatically, the administration said.

A further criteria has been introduced which will allow for the suspension of flights if ten passengers from the same place test positive at any time within seven days, including in quarantine.

Separately, officials have ordered anyone who arrived on a flight from Manila to Hong Kong on April 14 who is exempt from quarantine to undergo virus tests by the end of Friday.

Two cases of the N501Y mutant strain have been found in passengers on Cathay Pacific flight 906.