- Hong Kong and Singapore have delayed a planned Thursday announcement of the launch of a long-awaited travel bubble to next week, according to two Bloomberg News
- An unidentified source said there was no reason given for the delay in the announcement, but it was initiated by the Singapore side.
- It is expected the start date of the quarantine-free travel arrangement would be moved to May 26, from May 19.
A spokesperson for Singapore’s Transport Ministry told local media both sides had not fixed a date to announce the resumption of the travel bubble “but will do so once we are ready, hopefully very soon”.
Singapore has been a vocal proponent of the arrangement in a bid to boost the aviation and tourism industries that have taken a big hit from the Covid-19 pandemic
Since November, Singapore has only had a few locally-transmitted infections each day, typically ranging from no cases to about five, but had on average seen 10 to 40 daily imported cases, as foreigners with work passes and student passes return to the country.
On Wednesday night, the manpower ministry announced 11 migrant workers at a dormitory tested positive. This came after a 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker, who lives in the same dormitory, tested positive on Monday during routine testing, despite being fully vaccinated.
The worker had completed his second vaccination dose on April 13. The 11 others who tested positive included his roommate, and they had positive serology test results – indicating past infection.
“These cases were immediately isolated and conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to investigate for possible reinfection,” the manpower ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.
The bulk of its more than 60,000 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic started occurred in the dormitories that house a mix of South Asian and mainland Chinese migrant workers who are on work permit or S-passes, and hold lower-paid jobs in construction, shipyards and processing.
Hong Kong had requested for these individuals to not be eligible for the travel bubble arrangement, ahead of the initial launch last November.
Singapore has one of the fastest vaccination rates in Asia-Pacific, having administered 2.2 million doses for its 5.7 million citizens. Domestic life has largely returned to normal, though concerns of reinfection are growing as new virus variants emerge and global cases tick up.
Hong Kong has seen between one and 30 new Covid-19 cases per day in the past week and is expected to record more than 20 new cases on Thursday according to a source, with the majority likely to be imported cases. Experts are also increasingly concerned about the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants.
To date, about 10 percent of the Territories 7.5 million population has received at least their first vaccine dose. 5.3 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated.