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06 Feb 2020 | 09:59 AM UTC

India: Air India, IndiGo suspend flights to mainland China and Hong Kong February 6 /update 1

Air India and IndiGo announce suspension of flights to mainland China and Hong Kong February 6; government implements entry restrictions for Chinese citizens and foreigners who have visited China

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Event

IndiGo and Air India airlines extended flight restrictions to mainland China and Hong Kong on Thursday, February 6, amid the ongoing coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. IndiGo will suspend flights from Kolkata to Guangzhou from February 6 through February 25. IndiGo flights from Bengaluru to Hong Kong and from Delhi to Chengdu were suspended on February 1, and the suspension will continue through February 20.

Air India announced that all flights to Hong Kong will be suspended starting Saturday, February 8. The airline had previously announced that flights from Delhi to Shanghai would be cancelled from January 31 through February 14. Additional flight cancelations are possible over the near term.

The Indian government announced on Thursday, February 6, that all visas issued to Chinese citizens before Wednesday, February 5, would be canceled in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. This restriction does not apply to Chinese passport holders in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. Additionally, foreign nationals who have been to China on or after January 15 will be denied entry to India. The government has not stated how long the ban will be in effect for.

There are three confirmed cases of the virus in India as of February 6.

Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV 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 25 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, respect government regulations, and contact their nearest embassy for further details. Individuals are also advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating undercooked animal products; avoid all markets where animals are sold
  • Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
  • Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
  • Individuals within China developing pneumonia symptoms are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
  • Travelers returning from China developing pneumonia symptoms are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease.