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18 Feb 2020 | 01:59 AM UTC

Russia: Aeroflot reduces flight operations to China and Hong Kong until March 28 /update 6

National carrier Aeroflot suspends some flights to China and Hong Kong between February 17 and March 28 following reduced demand due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak; further spread of the virus is possible in the near term

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Event

The national carrier Aeroflot announced on Monday, February 17, that due to reduced demand amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak it will suspend some of its flight operations to China effective Tuesday, February 18, and to Hong Kong effective Sunday, March 1. Aeroflot will reduce flights to Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai from Tuesday through Saturday, March 28. The airline will also reduce flights to Hong Kong from March 1 through March 28.

All other major Russian airlines suspended flights to China as of Friday, January 31. Officials have confirmed two cases of COVID-19 in Chinese nationals as of February 17; one in the Tyumen region and the other in Zabaikalsky region. Further spread of the virus is possible in Russia in the coming days and weeks. 

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 (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 29 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

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

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

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

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.