New Delhi: Hong Kong on Friday banned Air India and Vistara flights from October 17 till the end of this month after a few passengers on their flights tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival. Notably, this is the third time that Hong Kong is banning Air India flights for bringing passengers who tested positive for the infection after arrival. Also Read - 10,064 Cases, 137 Deaths: India Records Lowest COVID-19 Infections Since June | Key Points

Vistara is facing the ban for the first time by the Hong Kong government amid the ongoing pandemic. Also Read - International Flights: Air India Commences Non-stop Hyderabad-Chicago Flights | Details Here

On the recent ban, Air India spokesperson told news agency PTI, “Only passengers with COVID-negative reports are being allowed to board from India (as per the rules of the Hong Kong government).” Also Read - India Records 12,584 COVID Cases in Last 24 Hours, Lowest in Seven Months | Key Points

“Hence, Air India cannot be held responsible for any lacunae on the issue of passenger test reports,” the spokesperson added.

Another mandatory COVID-19 test is being carried out for passengers after landing in Hong Kong and reports of the same may vary from the reports of tests conducted 72 hours before taking the flight, the spokesperson noted.

Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.

Moreover, all international passengers are required to undergo a post-flight COVID-19 test at the Hong Kong airport.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the pandemic. However, the Indian airlines have been permitted to operate special international flights under the Vande Bharat mission since May this year and under the bilateral air bubble pacts since July this year.

Under a bilateral air bubble pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. India has formed such pacts with approximately 17 countries.