Pakistan has again suspended flights to coronavirus-hit China till March 15 due to surge in the infected cases in that country, days after it resumed the air operations to and from Beijing, according to officials. Earlier, Pakistan suspended flights from China on January 31 till February 2, a day after the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the virus as a global health emergency.
National flag-carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was operating two flights weekly to Beijing after the resumption of air services on February 3. The flights were allowed a day after Pakistan said it has received special medical kits from China to detect the coronavirus cases. PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez told media that the airline took the decision to suspend its flights till March 15 due to the increasing number of the novel coronavirus cases in China.
“The decision about resuming the flight operation to Beijing will be taken keeping the situation in view,” he said. The coronavirus death toll in China climbed to 2,592 with 150 new fatalities, while the total number of confirmed cases increased to over 77,000, health officials said on Monday. Pakistan on Sunday also temporarily closed its border with Iran to counter the threat of coronavirus from across the border. Iran has so far witnessed eight deaths and 43 cases of infection due to COVID-19. Thousands of Shiite Pakistanis travel to Iran every year to visit various religious sites.
Six districts of Balochistan including Chaghi, Washuk, Panjgur, Kech and Gwadar are on the border with Iran. Earlier, Pakistan's Ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi said that Pakistani students should not be evacuated from China's worst-hit Wuhan city as medical facilities back home do not meet the standards required to treat a patient diagnosed with coronavirus. There were up to 800 Pakistanis studying in various universities in Wuhan. Earlier, Foreign Office said that there were 28,000 Pakistani students currently in China apart from hundreds of businessmen.