In the latest development, Hong Kong has suspended Air India’s incoming flights after a string of COVID-19 positive cases were found on a flight.
Hong Kong banned Air India from flying to its airport for two weeks till 3 Oct after 6 passengers were found on a 18 Sep Air India flight. The passengers were flying from Delhi into Hong Kong. The 6 were tested positive upon arrival.
Prior to this, Air India carried 11 COVID-19 positive passengers also on a flight from Delhi to Hong Kong on Aug 14.
Last Tue (15 Sep), the Hong Kong authorities tightened its regulations to contain the COVID-19 pandemic by announcing a ban for any airline that carries five or more COVID-19 positive passengers, or operates two consecutive flights with three or more infected passengers.
An official from the Hong Kong Department of Health said, “The Department of Health (DH) has been closely monitoring the epidemic situation and has tightened the criteria from September 15 … to prohibit landing of passenger flights in Hong Kong … As a flight operated by Air India (AI310) arriving Hong Kong from Delhi on September 18 had 6 passengers confirmed to have infected with COVID-19 upon arrival testing, the DH invoked the aforementioned regulation to prohibit landing of passenger flights operated by Air India in Hong Kong from September 20 to October 3”.
In response to media enquiry, Air India said, “Air India, as a responsible airline, is strictly conforming to these rules and protocol. Only passengers with Covid negative reports are being allowed to board from India. Another mandatory Covid-19 test is carried out for passengers after landing in Hong Kong and reports of the same may vary from the reports of tests conducted 72 hours before taking the flight. Hence, Air India cannot be held responsible for any lacunae on the issue of passenger test reports.”
Fake COVID-19 certificates
Even though Air India only allowed passengers from India with COVID-19 negative reports to board its planes, there is no guarantee that those COVID-19 reports or certificates are genuine. In fact, there have been reports of fake COVID-19 certificates appearing in India recently (‘Indian Fake COVID-19 certificates appearing in India‘).
Some of the government public hospitals in India are even alleged to have been involved in rackets selling fake COVID-19 certificates to members of the public in India, certifying them to be COVID-19 free.
Last Wed (16 Sep), news emerged that a government hospital in the Indian State of Uttarakhand had allegedly issued Out-Patient Department (OPD) slips to people, certifying that they are free of COVID-19 without conducting any COVID-19 tests. The matter came to light when a government doctor was caught issuing the fake COVID-19 certificates for money.
Uttarakhand State Chief Secretary has ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter. The probe will seek to find out how long the racket was going on at the hospital and how many doctors were involved in it, the Chief Secretary said.
Meanwhile, Singapore government continues to allow travellers from India to fly into Singapore. Just yesterday (21 Sep), there were 9 imported cases of COVID-19 with 7 of the 9 from India.