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28 Mar 2020 | 09:17 PM UTC

China: Authorities ease lockdown measures in Hubei province and resume domestic flights on March 29 /update 49

Authorities to resume domestic passenger flights in Hubei Province on March 29 and Wuhan Tianhei International Airport (WUH) on April 8; confirm travel itineraries

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Event

The Civil Aviation Administration of China announced on Friday, March 27, that domestic passenger flights in Hubei Province, except for Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH), will resume on Sunday, March 29, following no new reported cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province for several days. Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH) will resume operations on Wednesday, April 8. However, flights to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, as well as between Hubei and Beijing will not resume. All cargo flights in Hubei Province will resume operations from March 29. Authorities have also announced that all travel restrictions in and out of Hubei province will be lifted as of Wednesday, March 25, while travel restrictions for leaving Wuhan will be lifted on Wednesday, April 8. All individuals leaving Hubei will be assigned a QR code issued by the provincial government to indicate that they are healthy.

An entry ban on foreign nationals arriving in China, including those with valid residence permits, remains in place as of Saturday, March 28, to prevent importation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. All visa-free transit policies will also be suspended. Exemptions will be made for diplomats, holders of "C" visas, as well as foreign nationals coming to China for "necessary economic, trade, scientific, or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs." It was not immediately announced how long the measure would remain in place.

As of Saturday, March 28, China's National Health Commission confirmed 81,439 cases of COVID-19 in the country, including 3300 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.