PIA suspends operations to China over corona fears

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Monday announced to suspend flight operations to China again till March 15 over fears of the coronavirus spreading to the country.
The decision comes amid the spread of the deadly coronavirus from China to other countries, especially Iran – another country sharing border with Pakistan – where death toll rose to eight since the infection was reported on Wednesday last.
The PIA spokesman has said that a decision about extending or ending the flight suspension operation would be taken after reviewing the situation.
This is the second time that PIA has suspended its flight operations to China, as also during the last month, Pakistan suspended operations to China briefly amid coronavirus outbreak and allowed airlines to start flights only after installing screening machines at the airports. Pakistan hasn’t reported a single coronavirus case yet.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets on Sunday, the Chinese Embassy once again assured the parents of Pakistani students in Wuhan – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – that the students were satisfied by Beijing’s efforts guaranteeing their “daily lives and studies”.
“The Chinese government with the Pakistani government and Embassy in China has established contacts with each Pakistani student to ensure adequate living and medical supplies. Most students are satisfied. We will continue to do our best to take care of them,” the Chinese embassy said in a tweet.
It added that the outbreak of COVID-19 is being fully prevented and has turned out positive trend in China. “The outbreak is preventable, controllable and the disease is curable,” the embassy tweeted.
“We understand the temporary difficulties of Pakistani students in Wuhan. They are with millions of Chinese to prevent and control the epidemic. We will take care of them like our own. They are safe and healthy. Their daily lives and studies are guaranteed. Parents, please rest assured,” it said.
More than 1,000 Pakistani students are said to be in China’s Hubei province, thought to be the epicentre of the coronavirus.
The number of deaths from China’s new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 2,592 on Monday after the National Health Commission reported 150 more fatalities. The commission also confirmed a total of 409 new cases in China.
Multiple provinces have reported zero new infections for several days in a row, even as the situation continues to worsen within Hubei and outside of China.
Pakistan on Sunday last also temporarily closed its border with Iran to counter the threat of coronavirus from across the border. Iran has so far witnessed eight deaths and 43 cases of infection due to COVID-19.Thousands of Shiite Pakistanis travel to Iran every year to visit various religious sites.
Six districts of Balochistan including Chaghi, Washuk, Panjgur, Kech and Gwadar are on the border with Iran. Earlier, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi said that Pakistani students should not be evacuated from China’s worst-hit Wuhan city as medical facilities back home do not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with coronavirus. – TLTP

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