Nepal’s national airline has been suspended from operating Kathmandu-Hong Kong flights for the second time this month after more passengers tested positive on arrival in the territory on 21 October.
Nine Hong Kong resident Nepali passengers who had boarded RA409 in Kathmandu with RT PCR negative reports were found to be positive when tested again on arrival.
The new ban will stop Nepal Airlines, which flies to Hong Kong four times a week, till 4 November. The earlier ban had just been lifted after a Nepali passenger had tested positive at Hong Kong airport after arrival from Kathmandu on 3 October.
Eleven new cases were detected in Hong Kong on 21 October, and nine of them were Nepalis who had flown in from Kathmandu. The others were a Pakistani and a local woman, the South China Morning Post reported. Hong Kong so far has 5,309 confirmed cases with 105 deaths.
The Hong Kong authorities have also clamped a 14-day ban on Cathay Dragon flights to and from Kuala Lumpur after a transit passenger from India was found to be positive in Hong Kong. Air India flights from New Delhi, and India’s Air Vistara flights from Chennai have also been barred for two weeks from operating the Hong Kong route after passengers tested positive.
Passengers from 11 high risk countries have to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine in Hong Kong after arrival, and Nepal and India are on the list. The South China Morning Post quoted an adviser to the Hong Kong government on Covid-19 management as saying that “something had gone wrong” with the tests in Nepal. “Maybe their tests are not accurate or sensitive enough,” he told the paper.
Meanwhile, within Nepal, the Khumbu municipality has decided to allow outsiders to trek and climb in the Everest region as long as they have PCR reports. But due to concerns about fake or false negative reports, the municipality guideline says that only tests done at government hospitals, HAMS, B and B and Star Hospital will be accepted at Kathmandu airport before boarding a Lukla flight.
Domestic passengers to other destinations in Nepal do not need PCR negative tests, although travellers by road to Manang and Mustang need to show test results when entering those districts.
Nepal Airlines requires PCR negative test results before allowing passengers on international flights, but does not have a list of approved hospitals and clinics.