Philippine Airlines forced to cancel or re-route flights to Hong Kong under new Covid-19 regulations

YP ReporterSCMP
  • The move could affect newly-hired domestic workers who have spent a lot of money to secure their jobs
  • The city’s health minister also announced new restrictions to prevent the spread of the N501Y mutation of coronavirus
YP ReporterSCMP |

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The temporary flight ban could have a negative impact on people trying to leave the Philippines for work. Photo: SCMP/ KY Cheng

Flights from the Philippines have been stopped, just as Hong Kong’s new circuit-breaker regulations came into effect yesterday.

The vast majority of the city’s domestic workers come from the Philippines, and the delay will severely affect new hires, many of whom would already have spent a small fortune to secure their jobs in Hong Kong.

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Philippine Airlines said on Tuesday that they had been forced to cancel or re-route flights in the coming weeks, because the Philippine government had invoked restrictions to limit the number of international passenger arrivals at Manila airport to around 1,500 a day, according to the Philippine Airlines website. Young Post was unable to book a flight from Manila to Hong Kong on the airline until next month.

Adding to workers' woes, health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee revealed on Monday that all airlines that fly the same route would be barred from flying to Hong Kong for two weeks should any of them bring in more than five people who test positive for the N501Y coronavirus mutation over a seven-day period.

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Covid-19 has seen several mutations since its start in 2019. N501Y is a common mutation and has been found in the UK, Brazil and South African variants, according to Biological Sciences News website.

According to data from the Centre for Health Protection, for the seven-day period ending on Tuesday, 16 people arriving from the Philippines tested positive, accounting for about a quarter of the 61 imported cases. A further 10 infections came from Indonesia. India had the most, with 17, while 12 came from Pakistan.

All the cases from the Philippines carried the N501Y mutation. The variant was also found in 10 cases from Pakistan, four from India and one from Indonesia.

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