World, Health, Asia - Pacific

Pakistan halts China flight operations

Decision follows global emergency declared by WHO amid rising number of casualties from novel coronavirus

Aamir Latif   | 31.01.2020
Pakistan halts China flight operations

KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan on Friday said it suspended flight operations to and from neighboring China amid rising number of casualties from the novel virus that has promoted a global health emergency.

Duriya Amir, a spokeswoman for the Aviation Ministry, confirmed the development that came a day after Islamabad delayed the opening of a key border crossing with China following the coronavirus outbreak there.

“We have suspended the flight operations with immediate effect to and from China until Feb. 2,” the spokeswoman told Anadolu Agency, adding that the suspension of flights was subjected to a “ subsequent review”.

The state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and the two Chinese airlines -- Air China and China Southern Airlines -- operate a total of 12 flights a week between the two countries. The PIA, for its part, already suspended its flight operation to China on Thursday.

Islamabad has already announced that it was not going to repatriate Pakistani citizens stranded in China, saying the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued no such recommendations.

On Thursday, the WHO declared the deadly coronavirus, which has claimed over 200 lives in China, with around 10,000 cases reported so far, an emergency of international concern.

Over 500 Pakistani students are based in Wuhan, where the first cases of the coronavirus were observed in December. So far, at least four Pakistani students in central Wuhan have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is said to have transmitted to humans from animals, particularly bats.

The virus has raised alarm globally with cases reported across Asia, Europe, the U.S., and Canada.

Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide. Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.

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