Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

Coronavirus: Etihad and Emirates will continue to operate flights to China

UAE airlines said their operations remain unaffected, in line with WHO recommendation that normal travel and trade should continue with China

UAE airlines will continue to operate flights to and from China, amid growing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus globally.

Etihad and Emirates confirmed on Sunday that their operations remain unaffected after many international airlines suspended their flights.

British Airways, Lufthansa, Qantas, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and others all halted flights to China.

Regionally, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Oman Air have all also suspended direct flights.

Qatar Airways announced on Saturday via Twitter it would suspend flights to China, citing “significant operational challenges.”

Saudia, as the airline is known, said on Sunday it would halt its operations to the Asian nation that evening, according to a tweet on its official Twitter account.

Oman Air, which operates four flights a week between Muscat and Guangzhou, will suspend the route from Monday, following directives from Oman’s Public Authority for civil aviation, according to its Twitter account.

On Friday, Etihad announced the temporary suspension of passenger flights between Chinese capital Beijing and Japanese city Nagoya “due to low demand”. The airline's daily flights to Beijing will continue, it said.

An Etihad spokeswoman said on Sunday that flights from Abu Dhabi to mainland China and Hong Kong "continue to operate normally, following the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that normal travel and trade with China should continue".

"The safety and well-being of its passengers and employees is the highest priority of Etihad Airways, which continues to collaborate with authorities and industry partners, and to independently monitor global action to help address this issue."

On Saturday, the UAE announced a fifth case of coronavirus had been diagnosed in a patient who arrived in the country from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The new case brings the total number of infections in the UAE to five after four members of a family on holiday, from Wuhan, tested positive for the virus.

It is not known where the cases were diagnosed in the UAE or where the patients are being treated.

All five patients are said to be in a stable condition.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the Wuhan virus – which has been called 2019-nCoV – a global emergency. New cases were being reported every hour.

There are now 14,543 confirmed cases, the vast majority of which are in China. In total, at least 305 people have died.

The Philippines reported its first death from the virus on Sunday after a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan succumbed to the disease.

It is the first confirmed death outside of mainland China.

Countries across the world have advised their citizens not to travel to China, including the US State Department, which also urged those already there to leave.

A number of countries also temporarily barred entry to foreigners travelling from China, including Singapore, Vietnam, Mongolia, Australia and New Zealand.

The virus results in pneumonia and has killed around 2 per cent of the people it has infected so far, according to current estimates.

Updated: February 3, 2020 08:30 AM

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