43 new coronavirus cases were reported in Hong Kong on Saturday, the highest daily spike in three months. Of these, 36 were locally relocated – including 13 which are untraceable.
Quarantine-free travel would be a big deal for both destinations, where strict arrival rules have been in place for months. When the coronavirus epidemic hit, both governments closed the borders and refused entry to most non-residents and short-term visitors. In Hong Kong, returning residents are required to go through a 14-day quarantine and wear an electronic bracelet to find their location.
How the bubble was supposed to work
The bubble was to start on Sunday with one flight to each city, with a quota of 200 passengers per flight – and later increased to two flights a day.
Passengers will have to meet certain parameters before starting, such as having not traveled in the last 14 days and undergoing mandatory Covid-19 testing. But upon arrival they will not be subject to any quarantine or stay-home notice requirements, or controlled guidelines.
However, the configuration always includes a warning that the Covid-19 situation should deteriorate in both cities, the plan will be postponed.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced early on Saturday that the travel bubble with Hong Kong would be launched as scheduled. But later that day, city-state transportation minister Ong Ye Kung announced that the plan had changed.
“Given the evolving situation in Hong Kong, Secretary Edward Yau and I discussed further this afternoon, and decided that it would be better to postpone the launch of the ATB for two weeks. We will review and update the new launch date in two weeks,” Ong said.
The last few days have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong after a steadily low number of cases.
The city’s Center for Health Protection urged people to avoid all unnecessary travel outside of Hong Kong, and residents to avoid going out, eating and not socializing.
“The rate of growth is very worrying,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch at Hong Kong’s health protection center.
He warned that this new increase in cases would be “very difficult to control”.
CNN’s Jesse Young contributed to this article.
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