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Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble may be delayed; decision by early next week: Ong Ye Kung

Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble may be delayed; decision by early next week: Ong Ye Kung

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane is seen parked on the tarmac at Singapore Changi Airport on Oct 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday (May 14) that Singapore will "critically review" the start date of the air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong, given Singapore's rising number of COVID-19 cases. 

"The assessment is: Given the rising cases in Singapore, it is very likely that Singapore will not be able to meet the resumption criteria," said Mr Ong at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Friday. 

"What we'll do now is closely monitor the numbers next few days, critically review the start date and early next week, we will make a decision and make an announcement on the Singapore, Hong Kong air travel bubble."

Mr Ong said he had spoken to Hong Kong's secretary for commerce and economic development Edward Yau on Friday morning to brief him on Singapore's COVID-19 situation. 

"We both agree that we are strongly committed to do this air travel bubble between these two international cities," said Mr Ong. 

"But at the same time we have to start it safely. And we must respect the resumption mechanism that both sides have agreed on."

On Thursday, Singapore reported 24 new COVID-19 community cases among 34 new infections. It was the highest number of community cases here since Jul 11, 2020. 

Overall, the number of new cases in the community has increased from 48 cases in the week before to 71 cases in the past week, said MOH. The number of unlinked cases in the community has increased from seven cases in the week before to 15 cases in the past week.

READ: Group sizes down from 5 to 2, dining-in suspended as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

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Under the terms of the agreement, the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble will be suspended for at least 14 days if the seven-day moving average of unlinked local COVID-19 cases a day, excluding dormitory resident cases in Singapore, is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.

Mr Ong added that Hong Kong is a very safe region now.

"Like us, they do tens of thousands of tests a day and they are picking up often zero if not one, two cases a day," he said. "The issue now is the situation in Singapore where cases are going up." 

The air travel bubble was slated for launch last November, but was suspended after a rise in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. The resumption of the travel bubble was announced on Apr 26 before community cases began rising in Singapore. 

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Source: CNA/hm