Hong Kong has temporarily banned four international airlines under strict new rules aimed at stemming the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Flights by British Airways, Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Nepal Airlines have all been suspended by the Hong Kong government after a number of passengers on recent flights tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.
The bans remain in place for 14 days, and even a single positive passenger arriving on a flight into Hong Kong can see that airline hit with a two-week ban if other passengers failed to comply with onboard health measures.
British Airways' flight BA27 from London on Tuesday December 8 was revealed to be carrying four passengers with COVID-19.
Hong Kong's Department of Health said it “thus invoked the regulation to prohibit landing of passenger flights from London operated by BA in Hong Kong from December 12 to 25.”
"We are disappointed to have been instructed by the Hong Kong authorities to temporarily suspend our passenger flights from London to Hong Kong and are working closely with the authorities to resume these services,” British Airways said in a statement, although it added that "our flights from Hong Kong to London continue to operate as normal.”
Similar sanctions have also been levied against KLM, Emirates and Nepal Airlines, while Air India has to date been issued with five bans to date.
In the case of Emirates, two successive flights to Hong Kong from Dubai via Bangkok on December 2 and 3 were found to have one or more COVID-positive passengers aboard.
A surge in Hong Kong's coronavirus cases caused the last-minute closure of a long-awaited travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore at the beginning of this month.