One more chartered flight mulled

February 19, 2020

Secretary for Security John Lee today said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is mulling over the need to prepare for a third chartered flight to evacuate Hong Kong residents aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.


Speaking to the media at the Legislative Council this morning, Mr Lee said the Immigration Department has contacted all 352 Hong Kong residents on the cruise ship and more than 200 have indicated that they will take the chartered flights arranged by the Hong Kong SAR Government to return home.


He noted that Japanese authorities will start allowing passengers to disembark today, once they have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.


He explained that about 20 Hong Kong passengers should have tested negative for the virus so far.


“We are pressing for more results today. So hopefully, the number of Hong Kong people who are confirmed to be negative will increase and we are pressing the Japanese authorities to allow them all to come down.”


Mr Lee asserted that the SAR Government has urged Japanese authorities to first deal with the Hong Kong passengers.


“We have been pressing the Japanese authorities to give priority to the treatment of Hong Kong residents.


“Our aim is to allow all Hong Kong residents to be allowed to disembark today, so that they will all be sent back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.”


The security chief said the SAR Government has requested even more information but Japanese authorities have failed to respond.


“For example, how many Hong Kong residents have tested positive and how many negative? How many are regarded as close contacts who may have to continue to stay in Japan? How many, if they are required to be quarantined, will be quarantined on the ship or on land? And we have asked the Japanese authorities to allow Hong Kong residents, even if they stay to be quarantined, then that should be done on land.”


The SAR Government will ask the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong to provide assistance, Mr Lee added.


“I will be in touch with the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong to reflect the concerns of the stranded Hong Kong residents on the cruise and to explain that because we have a large number, so it is in everybody's interest that priority is given to Hong Kong residents, so that they can come back as early as possible.”

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