Monday, 28 November, 2022
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Breaching HK Corona Rules

Two ex-Cathay aircrew face jail time

HONG KONG: Two former Cathay Pacific flight attendants were found guilty of violating Hong Kong's Covid-19 rules Thursday, months after being named some of the first cases of an Omicron outbreak in the city that killed thousands, reports AFP.

Hong Kong has imposed some of the world's strictest Covid rules and only abandoned compulsory quarantine for all international arrivals in September.

The city had the highest per capita death rate in Asia early this year after an Omicron outbreak killed thousands of patients, most older than 65. Some of the city's first Omicron cases were traced to two Cathay flight attendants in January Wong Yoon-loong, 46, and Nilsson Lau, 45.

Flight attendants were subject to more lenient Covid rules at the time, allowing them to skip quarantine and instead undergo medical surveillance at home for three days. The pair of co-workers met up during that time, before each going to meet friends for meals.

The two men -- who were fired after the quarantine breach -- each face up to six months in jail and a fine of HK$5,000 ($640), and were remanded in custody Thursday pending sentencing on December 1. The defendants abused the rights and privileges given by the government and caused others to become infected, magistrate Edward Wong said.

Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy argued in January that a tiny minority of rule-breakers should not overshadow the airline's contributions to Hong Kong.

The airline's crews spent a combined total of 73,000 nights in quarantine in 2021, which was unparalleled, Healy said.

On Monday, Cathay said it was on track to operating at one-third of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels by the end of the year, and that a full return to normality is not expected until the end of 2024.