British Airways has today (29 January) halted all direct flights to and from mainland China as the number of people infected by the Novel Coronavirus continues to rise.
A statement from the airline obtained by TRBusiness read: “We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority. Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on ba.com.”
The UK Foreign Office yesterday advised against ‘all but essential travel to Mainland China’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are working urgently to finalise arrangements for an assisted departure from Hubei Province for British nationals this week, and are in contact with people in Hubei to ensure they register their interest and that we can keep them updated.
OFFICIALS MEET IN CHINA
“The UK continues to be guided by the latest medical advice about the Coronavirus outbreak. The safety and security of British people will always be our top priority.”
It is being widely reported that the virus has now infected more than 5,000 and claimed the lives of 132. The number of people confirmed to be carrying the virus passed 4,500 yesterday, with the greatest number recorded in China.
While the full extent of the seemingly worsening situation on travel retail is yet to be truly ascertained, it is likely to be profound as reports emerge of Hong Kong shutting its borders to the Mainland and China moving to cancel group tours.
Other countries including the US are in the process of evacuating foreign nationals from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
As reported, Lotte Duty Free has started implementing contingencies at its shops in an attempt to deter the spread of the virus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) met yesterday with China’s President Xi Jinping to discuss how to contain the Novel Coronavirus strain 209-nCov.
The WHO is due to send international experts to China as soon as possible to work with Chinese counterparts in an attempt to better understand the outbreak and guide global response efforts. The WHO has not as yet declared the situation a global emergency.
“We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus,” said Ghebreyesus.
“WHO is working closely with the government on measures to understand the virus and limit transmission. WHO will keep working side-by-side with China and all other countries to protect health and keep people safe.”