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Cathay Pacific to axe unvaccinated staff as deadline passes

written by Isabella Richards | September 3, 2021
Cathay Pacific 777 crosses Hong Kong (Cathay)

Cathay Pacific is threatening to release unvaccinated staff after a jab deadline set by the company expired earlier this week.

According to sources who spoke to the South China Morning Post, disciplinary proceedings will take place against employees who are refusing the COVID-19 inoculation.

“We are following up on the small number of cases individually,” a spokeswoman said to the publication. “We continue to review the future employment of those who are not vaccinated and assess whether they can continue to be employed as aircrew with Cathay Pacific.”

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A deadline was set for 31 August for staff to get the jab, with letters sent on Wednesday, 1 September, asking why certain people had chosen to not get vaccinated still.

The letter stressed employees had already been sent numerous reminders over nine weeks and it’s claimed 99 per cent of pilots and 93 per cent of flight attendants have already received the vaccine.

The source added most who have not received it were either unable to for medical reasons, but 60 to 80 are being questioned for their lack of vaccination records or explanations.

Hong Kong has maintained a positive streak of between one to six new cases a day since May, and on Thursday announced the first time in over a month of zero cases.

The nation has kept a tight grip on travel to maintain its ‘zero-COVID’ strategy, especially to encourage vaccinations to eventually open borders.

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Hong Kong airport last week set a vaccination mandate from 1 September, disapproving of any medical exemptions.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority (AA) would now require all employees, including those who come into contact with passengers and high-risk cargo would need to be vaccinated.

“If we look at the airport, it is a high-risk place, especially when we are having inbound travellers, be it transit or coming to Hong Kong from places where there may be very high risk in terms of the epidemic situation,” said Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan.

Since the nation has kept cases low, Hong Kong confirmed that a suspended quarantine-free travel bubble allowing residents from mainland China to return home would happen soon.

The plan is set to be extended to neighbouring locations such as Guangdong province and Shanghai eventually.

Hong Kong’s latest data shows 46.3 per cent of the population are double-jabbed, with 7.64 doses given, one of the leading nations in vaccination targets.

While there has been minimal cases and high vaccination rates, citizens and industry leaders are urging the government to lift the strict travel isolation as businesses suffer and tourism plummets.

Despite the calls, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam dismissed the possible opening of international travel to prevent case numbers from rising.

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