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COVID-19: Singapore and Hong Kong agree on bilateral travel bubble

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed on a bilateral air travel bubble, which will exempt travellers from the mandatory quarantine upon arrival, as the rate of coronavirus infection declines in both regional aviation hubs.

To avail the flights, travellers will have to test negative in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Thursday.

Travellers under the bubble will not be subject to mandatory quarantining, the MOT release said, adding that there will be no restrictions on travel purposes and no need for a controlled itinerary.

The air travel bubble will have dedicated flights, separate from local travel.

The MOT said the bubble can be “scaled by adjusting the number of dedicated flights upwards or downwards, or even suspended, in line with the latest developments and COVID-19 situation in the two cities”.

“Both our cities have low incidence of COVID-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control COVID-19,” said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.

“This has given us the confidence to mutually and progressively open our borders to each other,” Channel News Asia quoted the minister as saying.

“It is significant that our two regional aviation hubs have decided to collaborate to establish an air travel bubble. It is a safe, careful but significant step forward to revive air travel, and provide a model for future collaboration with other parts of the world,” he said.

The air travel bubble launch date and other implementation details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Singapore recorded three new coronavirus cases on Thursday, two of which were foreign arrivals.

The local case was from the dormitories for foreign workers, which have emerged as major virus hotspots. Now the total number of cases in Singapore stands at 57,892. The two imported cases have been placed under ‘Stay At Home Notice’.

The three imported cases reported on Wednesday were arrivals from the United Kingdom, Russia and a student passholder from India.

With 12 cases discharged from hospital on Wednesday, 57,752 people have recovered from the disease in Singapore. There are 109 active cases—39 admitted in hospitals and 70 isolated in community care facilities.

Hong Kong has reported fewer cases than Singapore. In total 5,214 cases have been reported in the former British colony of whom 105 people have died.