Pakistan halts flight operations to China as death toll from coronavirus rises

Pakistan halts flight operations to China as death toll from coronavirus rises

Islamabad (Web Desk): Pakistan on Friday suspended flights to and from China with immediate effect, a civil aviation official said.

“We are suspending flights to China until Feb 2,” additional secretary of aviation Abdul Sattar Khokhar told a foreign news agency.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency as Chinese authorities Friday increased coronavirus toll to 213 dead and nearly 10,000 infections.

"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros said travel and trade restrictions involving China were unnecessary, but authorities and businesses around the world were taking matters into their own hands. Germany, Britain and other countries have issued warnings about travel to China, major airlines have suspended or reduced flights to the country, and Mongolia has halted cross-border traffic with its huge southern neighbour.

China has taken extreme steps to stop the spread of the virus, including effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province. The government on Friday reported 43 new deaths in the preceding 24 hours. The number of new fatalities has risen daily over the past 10 days.

The United States told its citizens not to travel to China. The State Department raised it warning alert to the highest level, telling its citizens "do not travel" to China because of an epidemic that has now spread to more than 20 nations.

Russia also sealed its remote far-eastern border with China as a precaution. Some countries have banned entry for travellers from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first surfaced, while Italy and Israel on Thursday barred all flight connections with China.