Amidst reports of the spread of the coronavirus both within China and around the world, British Airways has suspended flights to the Chinese mainland with immediate effect. Many airlines including Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air have already cancelled flights to China.
132 people have died as a result of the infection and approximately 6000 are reported infected. The number of infected are expected to peak within the next 10 days.
BA operates direct daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Heathrow. These flights are suspended for January and February as the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against anything other than essential travel.
In a statement today, BA has said ‘We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel. 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 suspension and travel warnings do not affect Hong Kong, which has imposed strict travel restrictions to the mainland.
The UK government is making arrangements for its citizens to evaluate Wuhan—the epicentre of the virus outbreak–and the surrounding Hubei province by charter flights as soon as tomorrow. (Thursday) Australia, the USA, Japan, New Zealand and a number of other countries are also evacuating their citizens.