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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Two Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Jailed For 8 Weeks

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After being found guilty by a Hong Kong court last month of breaking quarantine restrictions, two former Cathay Pacific flight attendants who were fired by the company for breaking pandemic laws when they were both infected with COVID-19 were each sentenced to eight weeks in jail.

The Omicron strain of COVID-19, which is highly contagious, was introduced into the region by Wong Yoon-loong and Nilsson Lau Kok-wang, both 45, according to local Hong Kong media. This caused a sharp increase in illnesses and fatalities among an older community that was mainly uninfected.

Although the exact source of the Omicron spread is contested, one alternate version blames a quarantined hotel where the virus transmitted from one room to another. Hong Kong’s strict border restrictions had kept the city relatively virus-free for much of the epidemic.

Wong and Nilsson had been given an eight-week term instead of the maximum six months they might have received for their crimes, which was announced on Thursday. Following the guilty conviction, the couple has already spent the past few weeks in jail on remand.

Most pilots and flight attendants coming to Hong Kong from abroad around the time of the crime in January 2022 were required to quarantine in a specific hotel, but there were exceptions for cargo-only flights, and aircrew was allowed to isolate at home instead.

Wong and Nilsson were spared from staying in a quarantined hotel because they had returned to Hong Kong on two separate cargo-only flights from North America, but they were still required to isolate at home and undergo routine COVID-19 testing.

Both guys traveled to crowded indoor settings where multiple members of the public were sick after failing to isolate at home for the required three days.

After breaking their isolation order, the former flight attendants discovered they had COVID-19. The men were initially sentenced to nine weeks in prison, but the court reduced that sentence by one week due to mitigating factors including job loss.

Omicron’s spread in Hong Kong raised concerns about the territory’s pandemic strategy, which had primarily relied on border closures and stringent social distancing laws to the detriment of building more intensive care hospital beds, enhancing access to therapeutics, and persuading vulnerable groups of the population to get immunized.

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