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HK’s new flight restrictions could stop arrivals from Manila

14 April 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap


Cathay's flight from Manila was banned last month for flying in 5 infected passsengers

Hong Kong’s new flight restrictions that take effect today could potentially shut down all arrivals from the Philippines for at least two weeks, given the number of passengers from there that test positive not just for Covid-19, but also for the highly infectious coronavirus variant.

Most ominous for travelers from Manila is the new rule that says that if 5 or more passengers with the N501Y strain are confirmed on arrival in Hong Kong “on any flight(s) originating from a specific country within a 7-day period, all flights from all airlines departing that specific country will be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong for 14 days.”


This means the two-week suspension will be imposed on all airlines that fly out of Manila, if within seven days, a cumulative number of at least five passengers from there are found to have the N501Y variant on their arrival in Hong Kong, regardless of which flight they took.

In the past week, a total of 16 passengers from Manila had tested positive for Covid-19, and all had the mutated form of the virus. Luckily, only three were found infected on arrival, which would not have triggered the ban. All the rest tested positive for the coronavirus and the variant on their second test while in hotel quarantine.


Another potential cause would be the tightened rule that provides for the two-week ban to be imposed on any airline that carried two or more infected passengers on any two flights from the same destination, within a seven-day period.

A third regulation that could apply is one that bans any flight route if at least three passengers on board test positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Hong Kong.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Both rules apply even if the infected passengers do not carry the variant.

Before this, the ban was triggered only if at least three infected passengers on two separate but consecutive flights tested positive at the airport, or at least five from the same flight were found infected on arrival.

The ones likely to be hit hard by the new restrictions are Filipino migrant workers

This rule was imposed on Cathay Flight CX 906 on Mar 15 when five of its passengers from Manila were found infected on landing at HK Airport.

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However it was not applied when Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 272 flew in on two occasions recently with at least five passengers on each flight testing positive on their 12th day in hotel quarantine.

The only rule that remains unchanged is the one that allows the government to impose the same flight suspension if an airline carries one or more passenger who tests positive on arrival, and at least one other who did not comply with set pre-boarding requirements.


For high-risk countries like the Philippines, these include a negative test result for a Covid-19 test done within 72 hours before the flight, with a certificate issued by a government-approved hospital or laboratory.

The move comes in the wake of calls for all flights to be suspended from the Philippines and other high risk countries like India, Pakistan and Indonesia, or alternatively, to halt the arrivals of all foreign domestic workers, because of a recent surge in the number of imported cases.

Air India has been banned several times under the earlier flight restrictions

Recently, a number of travelers from these countries have been flying in with the coronavirus. However, the mutated form of the virus is rarely seen among recent arrivals from Indonesia.

Air India has been banned no less than six times for flying in at least five passengers who test positive on arrival, while a Vistara flight remains under suspension for flying in two sets of passengers from India who were found infected on arrival.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong 

Yesterday, Emirates flight EK 384 which originated from Dubai and Bangkok was also banned from flying for two weeks after five of its passengers who originated from Pakistan tested positive on arrival on Apr 11.

Meanwhile, six Covid-19 cases were reported today, four of them imported and the two others locally acquired, and linked to previous infections.

Of the four imported cases, only one, a 26-year-old woman from Pakistan who tested positive on arrival at the airport, was found to have the N501Y variant.

The three other imported cases did not carry the mutation, including a 56-year old man from Egypt who tested positive at the airport. The two others were found infected while in hotel quarantine - a 20-year old woman from Pakistan and a 2-year-old baby girl from India.

Both local cases, a 70-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman, live in Oi Fai Estate in Tuen Mun, where a cluster of cases was found recently.




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