Travel bubble: Singapore requires on-arrival test for Hong Kong travellers after surge in virus cases


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Kok Xinghui in Singapore xinghui.kok@scmp.com
HK activist on list of 100 influential women
Hong Kong travellers landing at Singapore’s Changi Airport under the travel bubble from Sunday will now have to take an on-arrival PCR test for Covid-19, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said on Saturday.
They will then need to self isolate in their place of residence for six to eight hours while waiting for the result, and will not be able to use public transport during that time.
The change in policy comes as Hong Kong saw a surge in coronavirus cases a day before inaugural flights under the quarantine-free travel arrangement.
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The on-arrival test costs S$196 (HK$1,130), meaning that the total testing costs will now be HK$3,020 (S$523), up from HK$1,890 (S$327). However, to give travellers time to adjust to this change, they will not need to pay for the on-arrival Covid-19 PCR test for the first week, from November 22 to 28.
Singapore’s Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told This Week in Asia on Friday that he “wouldn’t rule out” on-arrival tests if infections rose.
Under the original arrangement, travellers were required to take two tests in Hong Kong, one within 72 hours of departing the city and another upon arriving at Hong Kong International Airport. In Singapore, travellers only need to take one test within 72 hours of their departure flight.
The travel bubble will be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day. Currently, this figure is 2.14 in Hong Kong, which means the threshold will be met if there are more than 22 unlinked cases in the city over the next three days. “This will trigger a two-day notice period, after which suspension will come into effect,” said the CAAS.
For example, if the threshold is crossed on Monday, flights on Tuesday and Wednesday will still go ahead but be suspended from Thursday.
The CAAS added that travellers from Hong Kong would then have to serve a seven-day home quarantine.
Hong Kong’s official tally now stands at 5,517 cases, with 108 related deaths, and is expected to confirm 45 new cases on Saturday.
In comparison, Singapore – where almost 94 per cent of its 58,143 cases are linked to foreign-worker dormitories – on Friday reported zero infections within the rest of the community for the 10th straight day.
On-arrival PCR tests at Changi Airport cost S$196 (HK$1,130), while a pre-departure test in a clinic costs about S$200 (HK$1,154). In Hong Kong, the on-arrival test costs HK$499 (S$86) while testing at community testing centres pre-departure comes to HK$240 (S$41) and upwards of HK$600 (S$103) at private clinics.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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