Hong Kong has banned Air India flights from Delhi till December 3 after a few passengers on its flight earlier this week tested positive for COVID-19 post-arrival, a senior government official said on November 20. This is the fifth time Air India's flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the viral infection after arrival.
The previous bans on the airline's Delhi-Hong Kong flights were from August 18 to August 31, September 20 to October 3 and October 17 to October 30, and on its Mumbai-Hong Kong flights during October 28-November 10.
Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.
Moreover, all international passengers are required to undergo a post-flight COVID-19 test at the Hong Kong airport.
Besides India, a pre-flight COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory for all passengers from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, France, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, the UK and the US, according to the Hong Kong government's rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
An airline operating a flight to Hong Kong from these countries has to submit a form before departure, stating that all passengers onboard have COVID-19 negative certificates.
"A few passengers on a Delhi-Hong Kong flight of Air India earlier this week tested positive for COVID-19 post-arrival," the senior government official noted.
"Consequently, the airline's Delhi-Hong Kong flights have been banned till December 3," the official added.
Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the pandemic.
However, the Indian airlines have been permitted to operate special international flights under the Vande Bharat Mission since May this year and under the bilateral air bubble pacts since July.
Under a bilateral air bubble pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. India has formed such pacts with approximately 20 countries.Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.