Hong Kong reported a spike in daily coronavirus cases to 26 on Friday, two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.
Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalation of coronavirus cases seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double digits in recent weeks.
Of the 26 confirmed cases, 21 were local transmissions, prompting Health Secretary Sophia Chan to say the Chinese-ruled city “probably entered” a fourth wave of infections.
Hong Kong health authorities said another 40 people were likely to be infected, awaiting final confirmation.
It comes as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is due to begin on Sunday.
Under the arrangement, people would be allowed to travel between the two cities without observing quarantine but must take a COVID-19 test before departure and upon arrival. There would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.
Travellers would also have to take designated flights, with only Cathay Pacific 0293.HK and Singapore Airlines SIAL.SI having been selected to operate these flights for now.
If the COVID-19 situation deteriorated in either city the travel bubble would be suspended, the two governments have said.
Hong Kong has recorded around 5,500 coronavirus cases and 108 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.