Up In The Air: Cathay Pacific & Prenetics Trial Digital Health Passport

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Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific and health tech startup Prenetics have announced plans to trial a digital health passport on selected flights. The test will see passengers use the digital health passport to show their negative Covid-19 tests on a mobile app before boarding, in a move that some say will become the new normal for the future of travel. 

Cathay Pacific and Prenetics, a Hong Kong-based biotech company behind the trendy digital consumer health brands CircleDNA and DNAFit, will be piloting a new digital health passport on Hong Kong to London service flights this October. Passengers will be able to show their negative Covid-19 test results on a mobile app prior to boarding, which could potentially ease international travel restrictions they face. 

According to the report by the SCMP, Swiss-based nonprofit The Commons Project, will also be participating in this collaboration that could shape how airlines and airports innovate amid the global pandemic and in the post-coronavirus world as governments gradually begin to lift border restrictions. 

Prenetics also announced that it is going to launch a Covid-19 test before the end of this year, which will be able to determine results within just 30 minutes. 

“Frequent testing could be one of our most important interventions as fall approaches to prevent large outbreaks,” said Danny Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Prenetics.

Read: Could this be what traveling looks like post-coronavirus? 

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government said that it is now negotiating to form “travel bubbles” with 11 other countries, the first time the administration has suggested a resurrection of international travel links. However, the move was criticised by some experts who say that there needs to be a verifiable way for travellers to document their health status to avoid yet another wave of infections in the city. 

Cathay and Prenetics’ trial therefore represents a potential solution to reignite international travel while ensuring that the spread of the virus can be controlled, at least until a workable vaccine emerges and the vast majority of citizens are vaccinated. 

However, it is unclear whether or how the pilot scheme will run ahead, as the government has just recently announced on September 24 that the United Kingdom will be added to the list of “high-risk countries”, which will mean travellers must take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours before boarding flights and show evidence of a 14-day hotel booking for the duration of their quarantine period. It is understood that this will take effect from October 1. 

Lead image courtesy of Cathay Pacific.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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