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Spike in cases delays Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble | World



Spike in cases delays Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble

FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus, walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong. The air travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.




HONG KONG (AP) — Singapore and Hong Kong on Saturday postponed the start of an air travel bubble meant to boost tourism for both cities, citing a spike in infections in the Chinese territory as a “sober reminder” of risks to public health.

The travel bubble, originally slated to begin Sunday, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kong’s minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference.

The arrangement is meant to allow travelers between the two cities to enter without quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations, and fly on designated flights.

Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections.

“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said. “In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think it’s the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture.”

Under the initial agreement, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is nearly four, prompting Yau and Singapore’s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, to postpone the inaugural flight.

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‘Travel Bubble’ Between Hong Kong And Singapore Is Delayed Amid COVID-19 Spike : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

In this Oct. 9, 2020, photo, people walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

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In this Oct. 9, 2020, photo, people walk down a street in Hong Kong. Singapore and Hong Kong have postponed a planned air travel bubble meant to boost tourism amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Hong Kong.

Kin Cheung/AP

An arrangement to allow air travelers between Hong Kong and Singapore to forgo quarantine has been delayed after Hong Kong reported a spike in coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong announced Saturday a delay of at least two weeks to the air travel bubble as the city confirmed 43 new cases — including 13 cases that officials have not been able to trace.

The bubble, which was originally slated to start Sunday, would allow a limited number of air travelers to avoid quarantine. To qualify, passengers would have to pass two coronavirus tests — both before departure and upon arrival — and fly on one of a select number of flights.

Both cities currently require most travelers to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said the postponement was the “responsible way” forward, the Associated Press reported.

“For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfill the condition of securing public health, and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme,” Yau said.

Yau said enacting the air travel bubble would be revisited early next month, Reuters reported.

Singapore ‘s transport minister, Ong Ye Kung, said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a “sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us.”

“I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint,” he wrote.

The South China Morning Post reported that the plan would have allowed up to 200 people to fly each day without a quarantine period.

As part of the arrangement, both Hong Kong and Singapore had agreed to suspend the program for two weeks if the number of local untraceable cases exceeded five on a rolling seven-day average. As of Saturday, Hong Kong was at nearly four, according to the AP.

Hong Kong, alongside Singapore, was lauded by public health officials for its response early into the pandemic. In recent days, however, the city has seen a spike in new infections.

At least one health official has warned of an upcoming “fourth wave” of coronavirus cases, Bloomberg News reports, adding that more social restrictions were planned to help contain outbreaks.

In total, Hong Kong has confirmed more than 5,500 cases of the coronavirus according to Johns Hopkins University. Singapore has confirmed more than 58,100 cases.

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Hong Kong To Singapore Travel Bubble Popped By Virus Spike

A planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was scrapped a day before its launch on Saturday after the southern Chinese city announced a sudden spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision is both a blow to the two cities’ battered tourist industries and also for other countries who had been hoping the scheme might be a model to replicate during the pandemic.

The two financial hubs have both suffered mild outbreaks. But with small populations and a heavy dependence on links to the outside world they have been hard hit as the global economy collapsed.

Desperate to help their key tourism and aviation sectors, they came up with the plan allowing limited, quarantine-free travel between the cities as long as visitors test negative for Covid-19.

The travel corridor was set to kick off on Sunday morning.

Hong Kong's tourist industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions severely limiting arrivals Hong Kong’s tourist industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions severely limiting arrivals Photo: AFP / Dale DE LA REY

But on Saturday, Hong Kong announced the scheme would have to be delayed for two weeks following a sudden rise in coronavirus infections.

“In the light of recent surge of local cases we have decided, together with the Singapore government, to defer the air travel bubble’s launch by two weeks,” commerce secretary Edward Yau told reporters.

After weeks of single-digit infections, Hong Kong health authorities reported 36 local coronavirus on Saturday.

Crucially, 13 were from unknown transmission sources, prompting fears the city has a new wave of out-of-control infections.

The sudden spike was enough for authorities in both cities to postpone the travel bubble.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs,” Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung wrote on his Facebook page.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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TSA Sees Spike in Passengers Nationwide as Travel for Thanksgiving Takes Off

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has seen a sharp rise in the number of airline passengers over the past two days as some Americans have started traveling ahead of Thanksgiving.



text, whiteboard: A passenger enters a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at O'Hare International Airport on October 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. TSA screened more than a million passengers on November 20.


© Scott Olson/Getty Images
A passenger enters a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at O’Hare International Airport on October 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. TSA screened more than a million passengers on November 20.

Daily figures show TSA processed 1,019,836 passengers on Friday. On the same day in 2019, there were 2,550,459 passengers. This decline is almost certainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday was the first day since October 18 that TSA has dealt with more than a million passengers. This is a significant increase from the day before, when just 907,332 traveler were processed. There were 703,135 on November 18.

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TSA has processed more than a million passengers on just two days since June 5. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March this year.

The rise in passengers comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised against traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” a CDC advisory said on Thursday.

“Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” they said. One spokesperson said that “celebrating virtually” was a better option.

The CDC advised people who do choose to travel to take precautions such as social distancing and mask-wearing.

TSA reiterate this advice in a statement to Newsweek, saying: “For individuals who travel we urge that they heed CDC guidance on ways to protect themselves and others during that travel by using face masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing.”

Guidance on COVID-19 travel precautions is available on TSA’s website. This includes washing hands “directly before and after completing the security screening process.”

“We will continue making the checkpoint experience as healthy as possible while executing our security mission,” TSA said.

The number of Americans flying is expected to increase as Thanksgiving approaches next Thursday. This time last year, TSA was screening around 2 million passengers a day.

Journalists and social media users have pointed to crowds at airports amid concerns that holiday travel could exacerbate the pandemic. Scenes at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Arizona were a particular cause of concern on Saturday, with others highlighting relatively sparse crowds at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia and LaGuardia Airport in New York.

NBC Chicago reported crowds at O’Hare International Airport in the city, citing long lines and limited social distancing. Denver Post enterprise reporter Jon Murray tweeted on Friday that Denver International Airport’s United Airlines terminal was busier than it was

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Hong Kong, Singapore Travel Bubble Popped By Virus Spike

A planned travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was scrapped a day before its launch on Saturday after the southern Chinese city announced a sudden spike in coronavirus cases.

The decision is both a blow to the two cities’ battered tourist industries but also for other countries who had been hoping the scheme might be a model to replicate during the pandemic.

The two financial hubs have both suffered comparatively mild outbreaks with strict social distancing and border measures imposed soon after the pandemic first emerged.

But with small populations and a heavy dependence on links to the outside world they have been hard hit as the global economy collapsed.

Desperate to help their key tourism and aviation sectors, they came up with the plan allowing limited, quarantine-free travel between the cities as long as visitors test negative for Covid-19.

The travel corridor was set to kick off on Sunday morning.

But on Saturday, Hong Kong announced the scheme would have to be delayed for two weeks following a sudden rise in coronavirus infections.

“In the light of recent surge of local cases we have decided, together with the Singapore government, to defer the air travel bubble’s launch by two weeks,” commerce secretary Edward Yau told reporters.

After weeks of single-digit infections, Hong Kong health authorities have begun reporting a sudden uptick in cases in recent days.

On Saturday they recorded 36 local coronavirus cases. Crucially, 13 were from unknown transmission sources, prompting fears the city has a new wave of out-of-control infections.

Hong Kong's tourist industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions severely limiting arrivals Hong Kong’s tourist industry has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions severely limiting arrivals Photo: AFP / Dale DE LA REY

Both Hong Kong and Singapore agreed that seven straight days of five or more unknown transmission cases would be enough to halt the travel bubble.

But Saturday’s double-digit spike was enough for authorities in both cities to postpone the travel bubble.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs,” Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung wrote on his Facebook page.

Shukor Yusof, an analyst with aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said that travel bubbles are fraught with challenges.

“Although widely supported by aviation bodies, bilaterally agreed air corridors is not the answer to the crisis,” Shukor told AFP.

“There is no solution until the vaccine is available to all. The more airlines swim against the COVID tide, and try to beat the odds, the worse it will become. Best to endure, stay put, refine the business model and conserve cash,” he added.

Neither Hong Kong nor Singapore have domestic air routes to fall back on. So flagship carriers Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have been hit especially hard.

Singapore is a major market for Hong Kong’s tourism industry with more than 450,000 arrivals from the city-state recorded in 2019, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Hong Kong

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Hong Kong reports spike in daily cases before travel bubble with Singapore opens

FILE PHOTO: A woman, wearing a face mask following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, sorts luggage at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong reported a spike in daily coronavirus cases to 26 on Friday, two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.

Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalation of coronavirus cases seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double digits in recent weeks.

Of the 26 confirmed cases, 21 were local transmissions, prompting Health Secretary Sophia Chan to say the Chinese-ruled city “probably entered” a fourth wave of infections.

Hong Kong health authorities said another 40 people were likely to be infected, awaiting final confirmation.

It comes as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is due to begin on Sunday.

Under the arrangement, people would be allowed to travel between the two cities without observing quarantine but must take a COVID-19 test before departure and upon arrival. There would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.

Travellers would also have to take designated flights, with only Cathay Pacific 0293.HK and Singapore Airlines SIAL.SI having been selected to operate these flights for now.

If the COVID-19 situation deteriorated in either city the travel bubble would be suspended, the two governments have said.

Hong Kong has recorded around 5,500 coronavirus cases and 108 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel as Covid-19 cases spike

After close contacts get Covid, acting Sec. Def. Chris Miller won’t isolate

Two people tested positive for coronavirus after having close contact with acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, who will not conduct a period of self-isolation as is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

Anthony Tata, who is performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday and twice subsequently, chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

Tata was tested because the Lithuanian Embassy informed the Pentagon that its Defense Minister, Raimundas Karoblis, tested positive for Covid-19.

Karoblis visited the Pentagon over several days in the last week, where he met with Miller, Tata, as well as Secretary of Navy Kenneth Braithwaite.

Miller and others won’t isolate, the Pentagon spokesperson said:

“As CDC COVID mitigation guidelines were followed during the Acting Secretary’s bilateral meeting with the minister, as well as meetings with Mr. Tata, Acting Secretary of Defense Miller is not quarantining,” the Pentagon said.

U.S. crosses 190,000 new daily Covid-19 cases

More than 193,000 people reported new Covid-19 infections in the U.S. Thursday, a new record. County and state health departments across the country reported 1,945 deaths. 

According to NBC News’ tally, case counts have exceeded 100,000 for more than two weeks now. In the last week, an average 165,665 cases have been confirmed per day, up more than double from the average 80,669 cases per day the U.S. was averaging four weeks ago.

Several records were set Thursday on the state level:

  • Iowa reported 39 Covid-19 deaths, tying its record set the day before.
  • Kentucky reported 3,637 cases
  • Maryland had 2,912 cases
  • 72 reported dead in Minnesota
  • 28 deaths in Nebraska
  • 2,416 cases in Nevada
  • 528 cases in New Hampshire
  • 4,491 new cases in New Jersey
  • 3,665 cases in New Mexico
  • Oregon reported 20 dead
  • Vermont reported 149 new cases
  • Wyoming reported 21 deaths

Track surges across the states.

Need a negative test before heading to Hawaii, governor says

HONOLULU — Anyone flying to Hawaii will be required to have a negative Covid-19 test result prior to their departure for the state, with the new rule going into effect two days before Thanksgiving, Gov. David Ige announced Thursday.

Until now, passengers flying to the islands using a pre-travel testing program were permitted to arrive and then upload their negative test results to a state database, allowing them to skip two weeks of quarantine.

Hong Kong suspends in-person classes for some students for 2 weeks

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has suspended in-person classes for lower primary school students after the city’s top health official said the coronavirus situation in the territory was rapidly deteriorating.

Classes for primary 1 to 3 students

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CDC recommends against Thanksgiving travel as virus cases spike

New guidance says the best way to protect yourself and others is to stay home.

The Centers for Disease Control is advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving next week, saying Thursday that the extraordinary spike of a million new cases over the last week raises new concern that family gatherings could spread the virus among families and communities.

“Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year,” the new guidelines state.

Erin Sauber-Schatz, the head of CDC’s community intervention and critical population task force, said the agency is asking people to consider whether their holiday plans could bring them in contact with someone at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The number of Americans diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19 have skyrocketed in almost every state in recent weeks. The country reported more than 165,000 new cases on Wednesday, according to CDC, and 20 states were at the highest numbers of people hospitalized for COVID-19 than any other point in the pandemic earlier this week, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

And given increases in case numbers after previous holidays like Labor Day and Memorial Day experts are concerned traveling and gathering for Thanksgiving could increase the risk of exposure for vulnerable populations.

“We’re seeing exponential growth in cases,” CDC COVID-19 incident manager Dr. Henry Walke said. “The opportunity to translocate disease or infection from one part of the country to another leads to our recommendation to avoid travel at this time.”

CDC officials said they concerned not just about people spending time on planes, buses, trains, or in cars but also about transportation hubs like airports where it could be difficult to maintain distance from others.

CDC’s COVID=19 incident manager Henry Walke said they know canceling Thanksgiving plans is a difficult decision, saying he plans to stay home for the holiday despite not seeing his parents since January.

“With Thanksgiving approaching our hearts and minds turned to seeing families and friends as part of one of our nation’s great traditions. And we all need to consider the safest way to celebrate this holiday. Amidst this critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Walke said.

“These times are tough. It’s been a long. It’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months now and people are tired.

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United says Covid-19 spike is hitting air travel — again

The spike in Covid-19 cases is starting to hit air travel once again, according to United Airlines.



a man sitting in a car: IN FLIGHT - OCTOBER 27: A masked passenger is seen seated on a flight from San Francisco, California to Newark, New Jersey on October 27, 2020. Although virus dissemination on flights is low when people are able to be socially distant, the extremely hard hit airline industry is having to consolidate flights, furthering complicating the dilemma. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)


© Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
IN FLIGHT – OCTOBER 27: A masked passenger is seen seated on a flight from San Francisco, California to Newark, New Jersey on October 27, 2020. Although virus dissemination on flights is low when people are able to be socially distant, the extremely hard hit airline industry is having to consolidate flights, furthering complicating the dilemma. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

United warned in a filing Thursday morning that it has seen a drop in bookings and a rise in canceled reservations, which it attributed to increased infection rates across the country.

The airline also may have to trim its schedule even more deeply in the fourth quarter, beyond the planned cut of 55% compared to a year ago.

The number of US Covid-19 cases is rising rapidly, reaching record levels in the last week. There were 170,000 new US Covid-19 infections reported Wednesday, as the number of US deaths crossed the 250,000 mark. Many states are reimposing restrictions on business and social activities.

And although US airlines are expecting their busiest week since March ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, many public health authorities are urging people to limit their travel and exposure to older relatives.

United was the first US airline to cut back its domestic schedule in March when the initial US outbreak first started affecting air travel. Soon, all airlines followed suit with deep cuts to schedules as the amount of air travel plunged.

Other major US airlines did not have an immediate comment on United’s filing.

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Thanksgiving Travel Numbers Will Down, Of Course. But Will Current Covid Spike Make Them Even Worse?

Next week 50 million Americans – about 15% of the nation’s population – will travel to visit relatives or friends, or to otherwise celebrate Thanksgiving, accord to AAA’s annual holiday travel forecast.

Or, maybe, they won’t.

Amidst the recent and continuing spike in the number of Covid-19 cases being reported in most states – along with spikes in Covid-19 hospitalizations and even deaths caused at least in part by Covid-19 – making such a forecast has become a bit of a crap shoot. Like everything else, it seems, in pandemic-disrupted 2020 not only are Thanksgiving travel totals this year going to be way down from recent years’ totals, they’re also subject a potentially large last-minute swing in either direction. While it would seem most likely that the actual total of holiday travelers will fall well short of these “forecasted” numbers, it’s also possible, in theory, that the totals could jump should the spike in reported illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths plummet unexpectedly over the next seven days.

AAA, the nationwide organization that provides service to members who get stranded by car breakdowns on the road, also is one of the nation’s larger travel agencies and, in some states, a major provider of auto and other insurance coverage. For decades now it has issued arguably the most accurate forecasts of the number of people traveling over major U.S. holidays. But even the folks at AAA metaphorically are throwing up their hands in frustration trying to nail down this year’s Thanksgiving travel forecast.

A month ago, AAA’s forecast team was zeroing in on a prediction of 50 million Thanksgiving holiday travelers in the U.S. this year. That would be about a 5 million-person drop from the 55 million who traveled over the holiday in 2009. But given the huge drop in the number of people traveling this year by air, rail and cruise ships – offset by the historical dominance of car travel on the family-oriented Thanksgiving holiday – that seemed to them like a reasonable, even surprisingly-large number.

Despite some health and government officials and organizations urging Americans to tone down their Turkey Day traditions this year, and in some cases to cancel outright their Thanksgiving gatherings in light of the pandemic, the likelihood that 50 million Americans still would risk traveling to give thanks with others this year seemed almost like a triumph of American grit in the face of adversity.

Since then, however, the coronavirus has burst back onto the American scene in a very big way. All but one of the 50 states now are seeing daily increases – big increases in about half of them

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