Singapore to Review Hong Kong Travel Bubble as Virus Returns


Singapore’s government said it’s assessing any potential changes to a planned travel bubble with Hong Kong after a flareup of Covid-19 infections triggered fresh restrictions in the city-state.

Singapore late Tuesday announced it would impose a three-week crackdown, including limiting social gatherings to no more than five people and tightening border curbs, to stem the spread of a new variant first identified in India. The tighter rules come a little more than a week after an agreement to open an air-travel corridor with Hong Kong on May 26.

“We will monitor the situation and we will review and assess whether or not there will be any changes,” said Lawrence Wong, the minister who co-chairs the Singapore government’s virus taskforce. Singapore and Hong Kong authorities remain in contact, he said.

Read more: Singapore Tightens Virus Rules in India Variant Cluster Fallout

The growing cluster in Singapore, which recorded its first coronavirus-related fatality in nearly two months over the weekend, underscores the fragility of travel agreements in the face of highly transmissible variants. The Hong Kong-Singapore accord, which has already been delayed several times due to infection outbreaks, includes a clear threshold on the number of linked local cases before the corridor is suspended.

According to the terms of the agreement, the travel bubble will be closed for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked local cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong. Currently, the number in Singapore is 1.43, well below that threshold.

In Hong Kong, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said late Tuesday the government is watching the outbreak in Singapore, though he said the number of cases is “by and large” within the agreed range.

‘More Infectious’

All of the five new cases Singapore reported on Tuesday are tied to a growing cluster at a large public hospital that stands at 40 and are linked to the India variant. These mutations are outracing vaccination progress in many places across the world, threatening to extend the pandemic.

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