Talk of sold-out tickets way off track

Top News | Michael Shum 26 Mar 2020

Speculation that express rail services between Wuhan and Hong Kong will resume on the day Wuhan lifts its lockdown early next month have been dismissed by the government.

The denial also came amid online claims that tickets for express rail trains on April 8 from Wuhan to Hong Kong had already sold out. The lockdown ends on that day.

Before departing for Wuhan on another round of evacuation operations, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen brushed off those claims.

"People alleging that tickets for express rail have already been sold out are incorrect," he said. "The express rail has yet to resume service."

The government began the second round of evacuations to bring back another 500 stranded Hongkongers on four chartered flights. Two flights brought 285 people home yesterday, while another two will set off today.

This came before a second Hongkonger, a 62-year-old man, died in Wuhan on Friday. Fourteen Hongkongers in Hubei province were infected with the virus, of whom two died and 12 were discharged, according to Nip.

Most people on the first flight came from three cities near Wuhan - including Xiaogan, Hanning and Huangshi - and arrived in Hong Kong at around 6 last night. A quarter of the more than 500 evacuees were aged 16 or below.

Two of them were children of a man surnamed Fan, who was at the airport to meet them.

Fan said: "They are very happy right now" after being stranded in Huanggang city for over two months.

Nip said the evacuees need not stay at quarantine centers "as the outbreak in Hubei province has dwindled." The second batch "will undergo a 14-day home quarantine instead of staying at quarantine centers."

He added that all protective measures will remain in place, and people with fever, respiratory symptoms or other infectious disease will not be allowed to board the planes.

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