Saturday, 22 June, 2024

Passengers flying to Hong Kong must have PCR test reports from govt labs


By Purushottam P. Khatri
Kathmandu, Nov. 28: Passengers flying to Hong Kong from Nepal via Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) must possess negative PCR-test report of COVID-19 from the government-owned laboratories, not from the private ones.
The central laboratory of the government has been entrusted with this responsibility. The new decision was taken on Thursday after holding a discussion with the representatives of the Ministry of Health, NAC and other agencies.
Earlier, the passengers travelling to Hong Kong via NA used to take COVID-19 test in the laboratories owned by the private hospitals, including HAMS and Star Hospitals and other private labs.
According to Karishma Shrestha, director and spokesperson of NAC, discussions were being held to entrust that responsibility to other government-owned laboratories as well, which will work in coordination with the central laboratory.
“It has been decided that the PCR test of the passengers going to Hong Kong on NAC flights will be done from the central laboratory. The laboratory will produce the test result within 24 hours. The report of the test done by a private laboratory will no longer be valid until further notice,” she said.
Earlier, passengers flying to Hong Kong, Japan and UAE with negative PCR reports of the COVID-19 issued by private hospitals and other laboratories were also tested in the destination countries.
The NAC's flight to Hong Kong was suspended until November 25. The next flight of the national carrier is going to begin from November 30. In the past, Hong Kong aviation administration had suspended NAC's flight thrice.
Hong Kong airport initially banned NAC flight from October 4 to 17 after four passengers of Nepal Airlines were found to be infected with coronavirus. Then, it re-imposed the ban from October 22 to November 4 after the number of infected passengers increased to nine.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had requested the Ministry of Health to investigate and take action against those private laboratories producing fake PCR test reports, because of which the Corporation’s reputation has been soiled.
According to the Corporation, more than 200 passengers have already booked tickets for the Hong Kong flight.
On October 20, the Corporation had written to the concerned ministries of Civil Aviation and Health Ministry to arrange PCR testing facility in the government-owned laboratories for the passengers booking the NAC's flight. Fourteen people were confirmed infected on the Kathmandu-Hong Kong flight a week later, triggering Hong Kong to ban flights from November 2 to 25.
The Corporation had even submitted a letter to the government after the Hong Kong airport found the test results taken in a private laboratories to be bogus.
With the reopening of international flights, the corporation has been operating Kathmandu-Hong Kong flight once a week.