The British Airways (BA) airline said Wednesday that it has suspended with “immediate effect” all its flights to mainland China due to the coronavirus, which has already killed 132 people and almost 6,000 are infected. The company, part of the IAG air group, said the decision has been made after the British Foreign Ministry recommended not to travel to China unless it is “essential.” “We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect” following the recommendation of the Foreign Office, BA said in a statement, and stressed that the safety of its passengers and its crew is “always our priority.” “Customers who are about to travel to and from China in the next few days can find more information on (the digital page) ba.com”, The airline said in its note. The company operates daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai from London’s Heathrow Airport, the busiest in Europe. The Government of the United Kingdom is working, as indicated by the media, on a plan to repatriate the British – about 200 – who are in the Chinese province of Hubei.
British health authorities and immigration agents began a few days ago to locate some 2,000 people who arrived in the United Kingdom of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak of the new coronavirus began, in the last two weeks. So far, no case of coronavirus has been declared in the United Kingdom, but the Government has not ruled out that possibility although it has made it clear that the risk to the population is “low.” The British authorities had arranged a few days ago the opening of a special area at Heathrow Airport through which passengers arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan must pass, where the outbreak broke out, as a precaution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever and cough.