A cargo pilot has caused alarm in Hong Kong today as he was discovered at one of the top tourist hotspots without having a clear COVID test. The pilot, who worked for cargo mover DHL, was on Peak Tram and had arrived from South Korea.
Sightseeing while awaiting results of COVID test
A pilot from the United States arrived in Hong Kong at the weekend but failed to follow guidelines regarding COVID protection measures. As reported in the South China Morning Post, the pilot had flown in on Saturday from South Korea and was in the city for just two days before leaving on Monday.
The airline industry had pledged to ask crews to self-quarantine in hotels in order to protect the locals from imported cases of the virus. At the time, the government had granted exemptions to visiting aircrew from the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, exempted foreigners are believed to have contributed to the recent spike in cases in Hong Kong.
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As a result, the government is bringing in new rules on Wednesday to stop aircrew from being potential spreaders. The rules will include having a negative COVID test before boarding any flight to Hong Kong; failure to do so will mean they need to take a COVID test at the airport on arrival and will need to isolate until the results are back. They will also be banned from using public transport.
On the Peak Tram
The pilot was discovered by another person who was on the Peak Tram with him. When asked who he worked for, the pilot said DHL, although SCMP says he actually worked for Southern Air, which is a contractor to DHL.
The person who talked to him said he was wearing a mask and said he would be leaving on Monday. He also told the person that he was awaiting results from a COVID-19 test. His actions were not in line with the pledge of his employer, and a spokesperson for the company said crew members were expected to comply with requirements.
As a famed tourist spot, The Peak is well known and visited by hundreds throughout the year. The general manager of The Peak Complex, May Tsang, told the SCMP,
“While we understand exemptions are necessary in certain cases, we hope individuals will be responsible and follow the government’s guidelines on social distancing, including self-quarantining until the result of their test is known.”
Although she said it was a worrying situation, she also assured other visitors that the tram is disinfected after every trip. Staff and passengers have to wear masks and have temperatures taken.
Nonresident pilots should stay in hotels
The Board of Airline Representatives of Hong Kong said that its members had previously agreed that non-Hong Kong-based pilots should remain in hotels during their stay in the city. Unfortunately, DHL and Southern Air are not members of the group.
Hong Kong is in the midst of a spike in COVID cases, recording 145 new cases yesterday. This is the sixth day in a row that more than 100 new infections have been registered and takes the total number today to 2,778.