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Monday Feb 24 2020
Web Desk

PIA suspends flight operations to Beijing

Web Desk
Photo: file

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Monday announced to suspend flight operations to China till March 15, Geo News reported.

PIA spokesperson said that a decision about extending or ending the suspension would be taken after reviewing the situation.

“PIA has suspended flights to Beijing till March 15,” a source told the news channel.

The decision comes amid the spread of the deadly virus to another neighbouring country, Iran, where death toll rose to eight since the infection was reported on Wednesday this week.

Last month, Pakistan had suspended operations to China briefly amid coronavirus outbreak and allowed airlines to start flights only after installing screening machines at the airports.

"Parents, please rest assured"

The Chinese Embassy on Monday 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 was being fully prevented and has turned out positive trend in China. “The outbreak is preventable, controllable and the disease is curable,” the embassy tweeted.

Read also: Terrified Pakistani students in China 'being kept in one room', no help from embassy

“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.

It added that suggestions of WHO and health experts are that the safest approach is to stay where you are, as any movement of people will lead to the risk of cross-infection.

More than 1,000 Pakistani students are said to be in China’s Hubei province, thought to be the epicentre of the coronavirus.

Read also: Pakistani student in China misses father's funeral as anxiety grows

The Chinese embassy’s remarks follow a three-day ultimatum by the parents of Pakistani students in Wuhan, demanding the government bring back their children.

“If you fail to get our children repatriated within the next three days, we will hold demonstrations in front of your ministerial offices and the Embassy of China,” they warned the Prime Minister’s Special Advisers on Health and Overseas Pakistanis, Dr Zafar Mirza, last week.

The encounter took place during a briefing held at the OPF Girls College in F-8/2, where Mirza was subjected to scathing criticism as he attempted to apprise parents of the latest situation in China, where the novel Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on human lives.

Read also: Pakistan expresses concern over reports of coronavirus facility being set up near student campus in China

Death toll from coronavirus surpasses 2,500

The number of deaths from China's new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 2,592 on Monday after the National Health Commission reported 150 more fatalities, all but one in the epicentre of Hubei province.

The commission also confirmed a total of 409 new cases in China, with all but 11 in Hubei.

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.