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The Hong Kong authorities have tightened their COVID-19 restrictions due to the pandemic out of which restricting flights from worst-affected countries for two weeks is their new guideline.
Hong Kong executive authorities have now banned Air India flights coming to the country as a part of the Vande Bharat mission, for two weeks from now. The reason the authorities have cited is due to the pandemic outbreak.
The country has been witnessing a spike in the number of coronavirus cases lately and is stopping flights from countries to curb the spread.
Due to the ban order that came into force on August 18, 2020, India had to cancel the to and fro flight between Delhi and Hong Kong scheduled under the Vande Bharat repatriation mission.
The Government of the Hong Kong Administrative region which comes under the People’s Republic of China is also commonly known as the Hong Kong Government or the HKSAR Government. It refers to the executive authorities of Hong Kong SAR.
The principal officials of the Hong Kong government are appointed by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.
The decision to ban the Vande Bharat Repatriation flights by the Hong Kong government is supposed to hit thousands of Hong Kong passengers who are stranded in Delhi since the pandemic outbreak.
The passengers’ only hope to return to their country is the Vande Bharat repatriation mission which is now non-operational for two weeks.
According to certain reports, the Chinese government has found 11 COVID-19 positive cases on Air India’s Delhi Hong Kong flight on August 14. The recent move to halt the Air India flight operations comes following these new 11 cases.
A Hong Kong government source said that the 11 cases that were registered from the Air India flight indicate that the lab tests in India are not reliable and the Indian authorities must do deep cleaning of their flights and ensure this would not happen again.
Air India has planned to operate two Vande Bharat mission flights from Hong Kong to Delhi on August 18 and August 21.
The Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said in a media briefing last Thursday that a total of 10.5 lakh stranded Indians have returned to India under various flights operated under the Vande Bharat mission.
The Vande Bharat mission started early in May after the coronavirus outbreak intensified in the country.
An Air India official confirmed that the Hong Kong authorities have banned Air India flights but have not detailed the reasons for their restrictions. The Air India authorities will soon hold talks with the Hong Kong government for lifting the ban.
India is currently in talks with 13 countries including Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea to establish air bubbles.
By Gayatri Yellayi