The Hong Kong government has banned passenger flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for a period of 14 days, following confirmed cases of a Covid-19 variant. The ban will take effect from April 20.

In a statement on the website, Hong Kong said that “as confirmed cases involving the N501Y mutant strain were detected for the first time in the community in Hong Kong, for prudence sake, it applied the criteria of the newly implemented place-specific flight suspension mechanism retrospectively for 14 days on places where there had been imported cases confirmed by arrival tests that carried the N501Y mutant strain”.

Business Traveller understands that the N501Y mutation is shared by both the so-called UK and South African variants of Covid-19.

The Hong Kong government said that “India, Pakistan and the Philippines all had seven-day cumulative number of relevant cases that reached the criteria in the past 14 days”.

There will also be enhanced testing for travellers returning from these extremely high-risk places – after completing the compulsory 21 day quarantine (with testing on the day 12 and 19), travellers will also need “to self-monitor further for another seven days and be subject to Covid-19 nucleic acid testing on the 26th day of their return to the city”.

The Department of Health has also introduced “a flight-specific suspension mechanism to prohibit the landing of flights operated by two airlines”, namely Cathay Pacific and Vistara.

Cathay flights CX906 from Manila was banned following two passengers testing positive on arrival for Covid-19 on April 14 and 17.

Similarly three passengers tested positive for the virus on Vistara flight UK6397 from Mumbai today (April 19). Both routes will be banned until May 2.

Earlier this month the UK government added the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh to its “red list” of of countries at high risk of importing Covid-19 “variants of concern”.

Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh added to UK government’s ‘red list’