According to a source close to the case, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice is planning to file a lawsuit against Cathay Pacific Airways, the territory’s homegrown airline and de facto flag carrier, accusing it of being responsible for the Chinese territory’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.
The lawsuit, according to local writer Ezra Cheung, is linked to two flight attendants who allegedly disregarded quarantine guidelines and infected several people in the town with the highly transmissible Omiceon variety.
Hong Kong is already trying to manage the outbreak, with more than 2,000 verified new cases reported on Monday, the highest daily case total ever.
As authorities react to the growing crisis, social distance regulations have been strengthened, schools have been closed, and hospitals have been placed on high alert.
The two flight attendants have already been charged with violating pandemic guidelines and will face a criminal prosecution, but Hong Kong’s top executive, Carrie Lam, has previously stated that Cathay Pacific is to blame for the outbreak.
For aircrew, Hong Kong has some of the tightest quarantine standards in the world, but due to the city’s reliance on imported commodities, aircrew who arrived on cargo-only flights were allowed to avoid two weeks of hotel quarantine in exchange for just three days of home isolation.
Cathay Pacific brought flight attendants home on freighter-only aircraft, despite the easier isolation regulations appearing to be intended primarily for dedicated cargo pilots.
Cathay chairman Patrick Healy believes that the ostensible gap did not violate the rules as written at the time.
Cathay Pacific and its employees, according to Healy, have experienced “the most difficult conditions for any airline in the world,” with the vast majority of employees acting professionally throughout the pandemic.
He has publicly apologized for the “disruption and anguish” caused by a small number of “non-compliance”.
The Hong Kong government has taken steps to shut any quarantine loopholes for airmen, although those who are still permitted to avoid hotel isolation must now be electronically tagged.
Pandemic restrictions have ravaged Cathay Pacific’s schedule, and flights from a number of destinations have been canceled.
The new outbreak’s transmission chains can be traced back to a variety of sources, including returning residents who became infected while staying in hotel isolation for long periods of time.