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January 30, 2020 12:23 pm

Citing the Coronavirus, El Al Halts All Flights to China

avatar by Golan Hazani and Adi Pick / CTech

An El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 767, June 6, 2013. Photo: Aktug Ates via Wikimedia Commons.

CTech – Israel’s national career El Al will halt all its flights to and from China because of the Wuhan coronavirus, the company announced Thursday. The company intends to reopen its route to Beijing on March 25.

A flight from Beijing scheduled to land Thursday in Tel Aviv is the last flight before the company’s termination takes effect, the company said in its statement. El Al’s decision to halt its flights follows new recommendations made by Israel’s Ministry of Health Wednesday, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) advised against restricting international traffic because of the virus the same day.

According to data released by the WHO Wednesday, there are 6,065 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, 68 of which are outside of China, spanning 15 different countries including Canada, the US, United Arab Emirates, France and Germany.

El Al is not the first airline to stop flights to China because of the coronavirus. German flagship airline Lufthansa announced Wednesday it would suspend all of its flights to Mainland China until February 9, including flights operated by its subsidiaries Swiss Airlines and Austrian Airlines.

British Airways has also suspended its flights to China, while other airlines, including Air Canada and Delta Airlines, have announced they will be suspending flights to certain cities in the Asian nation.

The coronavirus came to public awareness on December 31, 2019, when China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) it has detected several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, a port city in the Hubei province with a population of some 11 million. On January 7, WHO experts identified it as a member of the coronavirus family, a group of respiratory infections. China has responded by quarantining the major cities in Hubei, putting some 56 million people under lockdown, though some experts have doubted the effectiveness of this measure. Other countries have implemented security measures such as screening for symptoms at airports and restricting air travel to China.

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