Hong Kong announced yesterday (29 Apr) that it will ban all passenger flights from Nepal flying into its territory starting tomorrow (1 May).
Nepal has been identified by Hong Kong authorities as extremely high-risk in importing COVID-19 infections to its city.
In addition to Nepal, flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines have already been banned by Hong Kong earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Singapore continues to allow travellers to use Nepal as transit point to enter Singapore (‘Ong Ye Kung: Travellers from India stay in third country before flying to SG assume lower risk profile‘).
Nepali media reported on 21 Apr that Indian nationals have been flying into Nepal, packing the hotels in Kathmandu before flying off to their destination countries including Singapore.
But Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung feels that the risk is low. He said that a traveller who has left India but stayed in another country before flying to Singapore would not have the same level of risk as someone who came directly from India.
The soon-to-be Health Minister said that anyone staying in one place long enough would assume the risk profile of that place. “I think, as a matter of general infection control knowledge, regardless of your nationality, if you stay in a place long enough, you assume the risk profile of that place,” he said.
“You may be from another country, but once you stay in a new country for a while, you assume a new risk profile.”
“But if your policy is to target risk, then for someone from a high-risk country to move to a lower risk country, stay there for some time, and after that remain non COVID-positive, remain negative, and then come to Singapore … they have lowered the risk in that process,” added Mr Ong.
On Wed (28 Apr), there were already 2 imported cases of Indian nationals travelling to Singapore via Nepal. One is a Work Pass holder while the other a Dependant’s Pass holder.
Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 infections crossed the 18 million mark yesterday (29 Apr) with almost 380,000 new cases, breaking another world record for new daily infections.
Nepali Times reported last week that Indian nationals employed abroad or who are visiting their families abroad have been using the capital city of Kathmandu as a transit point to places that have imposed a ban on direct flights from India, including Hong Kong and Singapore.
In its article dated 21 Apr, it was stated that nearly 400 Indian workers depart from Kathmandu daily to the two cities, as well as Saudi Arabia and other countries after spending two weeks in hotels in Nepal’s largest city.
Between 1 to 18 Apr, 5,250 Indian nationals had reportedly flown out of Tribhuvan Kathmandu Airport (TIA), according to Nepali Times.
The Indian embassy in Nepal later issued an advisory against Indian nationals transiting to other countries via Nepal due to the restrictions imposed on such travel by Nepal’s Immigration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The restriction, which took effect on Wednesday (28 Apr) and will continue indefinitely until further notice, does not affect inbound and outbound flights to and from Nepal for travellers making the country their final port of embarkation and disembarkation.