DestinationsAs well, Cathay Pacific joins a growing crop of airlines to offer Covid insurance for passengers.

Test first, then fly: Hong Kong offers pre-flight Covid tests

Rapid PCR tests are now available at Hong Kong International Airport. Travellers are advised to arrive at least four hours before departure, with results delivered via email or SMS within two hours of taking the test.
Rapid PCR tests are now available at Hong Kong International Airport. Travellers are advised to arrive at least four hours before departure, with results delivered via email or SMS within two hours of taking the test. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic

Hong Kong has upped its pandemic safety game with Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) announcing rapid Covid-19 test services, and its flag carrier, Cathay Pacific, announcing free Covid-19 travel insurance.

The rapid PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests at HKIA will be conducted by biotech company Prenetics — the same company providing tests at London’s Heathrow Airport. Prenetics says the tests are accepted by all countries that currently require PCR tests and can also be uploaded to digital health passes where available.

There will be two testing centres in non-restricted areas of the airport, and HKIA is advising travellers to arrive at least four hours before departure to ensure sufficient time for processing. The results are delivered via email or SMS within two hours of taking the test.

The airport is also advising travellers to book these tests in advance, with pre-booking appointments available up to two weeks before departure. The testing centres operate from 9:30am to 6pm.

HKIA also announced that Raffles Medical Group will be providing tests beginning 21 December, although these tests take 24 hours to be confirmed for specimens collected before noon. This service will be available from 7am until 11.59pm with advance bookings available.

The cost for both options is pegged at US$65.

In related news, Cathay Pacific’s recent announcement of free Covid-19 insurance for passengers applies to all flights until 28 February 2021.

While bookings need to be made with Cathay Pacific, the insurance itself will be applied to flights operated by the Hong Kong carrier or its codeshare and interline partners.

Working with AXA General Insurance Hong Kong, the insurance is automatically applied when confirmed bookings are made. The insurance covers the following while overseas: medical and hospitalisation (including PCR tests) of up to US$200,000; quarantine costs that are unforeseen of up to US$100 per day; evacuation and repatriation; and 24-hour hotline access via phone or WhatsApp.

Coverage is for 30 days starting from date of departure or until travellers return to their home country, whichever is earlier.

Similarly in Japan, Japan Airlines (JAL) has teamed up with Allianz Travel to provide complimentary insurance covering up to US$180,000 in medical, testing, isolation, subsequent treatment costs as well as the journey home for passengers who test positive for Covid-19 during their travels with the airline. A 24-hour hotline has also been set up for passengers who suspect they've been infected.

Applicable to all travellers on international flights between 23 December 2020 to 30 June 2021, the cover is valid for 31 days starting from the first leg of a traveller's JAL itinerary, and will expire once he or she touches down at their country of residence.

Elsewhere in the region, inbound foreign visitors to Singapore also have the option of purchasing travel insurance coverage for Covid-19 related costs incurred locally.

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