Hong Kong will soon feel the negative effects of tougher Covid-19 quarantine curbs on air crew, with cargo traffic and the supply of goods into the city set to drop, the city’s leader said on Wednesday.
The warning comes as Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways said it would comply with two government investigations after two crew members who broke self-isolation rules sparked a Covid-19 outbreak in the city.
In a video to staff on Tuesday, Cathay chair Patrick Healy said the airline apologised for the “disruption and anguish” caused by the outbreak, which has led Hong Kong to shut primary schools and has set back plans for cross-border travel with mainland China.
Cathay has fired the crew members involved.
The video came after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, on Tuesday announced the government was investigating the breach of isolation rules as well as Cathay carrying crew returning to Hong Kong on cargo-only flights to avoid hotel quarantine.
Healy said the airline took “full responsibility” for the latter decision, which it was confident was in line with government regulations.
The Hong Kong government is facing criticism over senior officials who attended a birthday party in violation of its own rules.
Critics believe Lam is trying to divert public attention from the 200-person bash. More than 30 top government officials and lawmakers attended the party in defiance of rules banning large gatherings.
Two guests subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 and several Hong Kong officials have had to undergo mandatory quarantine at the government-run Penny’s Bay camp.
Among those quarantined are Au Ka-wang, the immigration director, Caspar Tsui, home affairs secretary, and at least 20 members of the legislature recently sworn in after an election that excluded pro-democracy figures and saw a record low turnout.
The birthday party venue claimed that its closed-circuit TV was inoperative, making identification of other potential public figures impossible.
- Reuters with additional editing by George Russell