Coronavirus: Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific aircrew required to log all activities during first 7 days of medical surveillance period in new app

·5-min read

Cathay Pacific Airways flight crew have been told to use a newly created app to record all their activities during the first seven days of their two-week medical surveillance period in order to comply with the Hong Kong government’s pandemic requirements.

The move, which came into effect last week, was in response to the government’s call last month for airlines to introduce “robust” mechanisms to ensure that aircrew fully complied with the requirements of the medical surveillance period upon returning to Hong Kong.

The city earlier this month eased Covid-19 restrictions for flight crew, who were required to log their movements in the seven-day period after arrival in Hong Kong.

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An internal memo sent to Cathay staff last week and seen by the Post on Wednesday informed employees that they would have to log their activities on the “Crew Activity Log” app created by the airline.

Crew were required to upload details of their latest flight into Hong Kong and all out-of-home activities, including supporting documentation such as screenshots of the “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app, over the first seven days of medical surveillance.

Staff were told non-compliance could result in serious consequences and enforcement action by the government.

“Please note, this is a legal declaration, you should keep your responses concise, professional and to the point,” General Manager of Operations Mark Hoey wrote in the memo. “I understand and appreciate that this involves further work for you all and for that I am sorry.”

Prior to the app, crew were told to fill out a medical surveillance form and to keep a log of their activities.

Cathay staff previously had to fill out a medical surveillance form and to keep a log of their activities. Photo: Edmond So
Cathay staff previously had to fill out a medical surveillance form and to keep a log of their activities. Photo: Edmond So

Cathay’s new rule did not sit well with staff, with one flight crew member telling the Post that “of course it’s an infringement of privacy”, while a pilot said it was “completely unnecessary”.

“I believe many feel it’s a breach of privacy,” he said, adding that more and more staff were making plans to leave.

A Cathay spokeswoman told the Post the app was part of the airline’s efforts to comply with government rules and only data required by authorities would be collected.

Supporting documents, in addition to visit records on the “Leave Home Safe” app, are required as proof of activities, she added.

“We take the privacy of our employees seriously. We have ensured that these arrangements are in compliance with the government’s requirements, as well as the relevant personal data privacy regulations,” she said.

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Current government rules require local crews to avoid mask-off activities in public places, and refrain from going to crowded places and mass gatherings for seven days after they arrive in Hong Kong. Those who fail to comply will have their exemption status revoked.

Authorities eased a number of restrictions on May 1, including reducing the period that the flight route suspension mechanism takes effect to five days. The new measures increased the threshold for the number of passengers who test positive for Covid-19 on a single flight to five, or 5 per cent of occupants, whichever is greater.

The compulsory quarantine period for passenger flight crews was reduced to three days at a designated hotel. The new measures also require all local air crew to undergo 14 days of medical surveillance.

Cargo crew are exempt from quarantine, and also must undergo 14 days of medical surveillance.

The Hong Kong government in January threatened to take further legal action against Cathay and its staff, after two of the airline’s flight attendants were charged with flouting home isolation rules. The airline subsequently fired the workers.

Hong Kong confirmed 251 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, including 28 imported ones, after 250 cases were reported a day ago.

The daily caseload has been fluctuating lately, with Monday’s figures hitting a three-month-low of 190 infections, the fewest since February 4. Two more deaths were reported, ending a four-day streak of no fatalities.

Health authorities on Wednesday also identified one more infection tied to the latest outbreak at St Catherine’s International Kindergarten and Nursery at Norfolk Road in Kowloon Tong, taking the number of people affected to six pupils and a teacher.

Hong Kong’s daily caseload has been fluctuating lately. Photo: Felix Wong
Hong Kong’s daily caseload has been fluctuating lately. Photo: Felix Wong

Dr Albert Au Ka-wing, principal medical and health officer at the Centre for Health Protection, said the newly infected pupil did not share a school bus with other patients, but her classroom was on the same floor as theirs. All environmental swabs from the school were negative, though Au said that could be due to the school being cleaned daily.

One more infection tied to an outbreak at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tai Koo Shing was also identified, bringing the number of affected people to 10. The latest case was a 66-year-old woman, while all 21 environmental samples from the diner had come back negative with sufficient air change per hour, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The city’s Covid-19 tally stands at 1,211,087 cases, with 9,372 deaths.

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The government announced on Wednesday evening that two hotels – Conrad Hong Kong and Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel – would be added as designated quarantine hotels.

The two hotels will start accepting room bookings soon and commence service from early June. They are expected to provide about 600 additional rooms on top of 23,000 rooms by the other 64 designated quarantine hotels.

The government also banned passenger flight EK384 operated by Emirates from Dubai and Bangkok between May 26 and May 30, after three passengers tested positive on arrival on May 23, while another five passengers on the same flight did not comply with related health rules.

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