Hong Kong bans NAC flights for the fourth time
KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 4
The government and the national flag carrier have been left red-faced as Hong Kong today imposed a 14-day ban on flights of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to the special administrative region of China for the fourth time.
Stating that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results from private laboratories carried by passengers boarding NAC flights to Hong Kong were faulty, the national flag carrier had earlier announced that only tests conducted in government labs would be accepted.
However, as even the results from the government labs have been found to be inaccurate, Hong Kong has banned NAC’s flights.
According to NAC Spokesperson Karishma Shrestha, five passengers who had departed for Hong Kong on NAC’s flight on Monday had tested positive for the COV- ID-19 infection. Even more embarrassingly, the national flag carrier had resumed its flight to Hong Kong that very day after a third two-week ban. With the fourth ban, the national flag carrier will be able to resume flights to Hong Kong only on December 18.
“We don’t have anything to say at this moment as the reports issued by the government laboratories have also been found faulty,” she said, “We thought maybe the private laboratories had done something wrong, but after this incident we don’t have anything comment at the moment.”
She further claimed that these are the external factors that are affecting NAC’s image in the international market.
“The passengers showed us negative PCR report and we allowed them to travel. But after reaching Hong Kong they had to undergo another test in which their results came positive for the virus,” she said, adding, “We don’t know how this is happening. But something is definitely amiss and now we have to seriously look into it.”
She further said that the tickets were already booked for the next flight on December 7. Now those passengers will be taken to Hong Kong only after December 17.
“We have two weeks. We will hold a meeting with authorities and take necessary steps to ensure incidents like these are not repeated,” she added.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAC is currently conducting only one flight a week to Hong Kong from Nepal.
Thus, Shrestha claimed that only two flights have been affected.
However, the larger issue now is about the national flag carrier’s image.
Prior to this, Hong Kong had imposed a ban on NAC’s flights twice in October and once in November. Back then problems were seen in the PCR reports issued by Star Hospital, HAMS Hospital, Suraiya Health Care and Central Diagnostic Centre.
Meanwhile, Runa Jha, chief of National Public Health Laboratory, said that they are also gearing up to investigate the matter. “We have been informally informed about this issue, however, we are waiting for a formal notification from NAC before we initiate any action,” she said.
She, nonetheless, was quick to point out that the incident does not necessarily mean a foul play.
“There is a possibility that those five passengers contracted the virus after getting their PCR test done, in which they would obviously test negative,” she explained, adding, “But this is just our assumption.
We cannot say anything about it without an in-depth study.”