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Pakistan halts China flights amid coronavirus outbreak

Islamabad: (AFP) -Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended all direct flights with China, after a global health emergency was declared over the coronavirus epidemic which has killed more than 200 people.

“We have suspended all the direct flights to and from China with immediate effect till February 02,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesperson for Pakistan´s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), he told AFP.

The spokesperson didn´t comment on the reason for the flight suspensions. A decision on whether flights will be resumed will be made on Sunday.

The three airlines affected are Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air China and China Southern Airlines, Khokhar said.

“We have received a notification from civil aviation authority regarding the flight suspension to China, since it is a decision from the regulatory body we will obey its directions,” said PIA spokesman Aamir Memon.

So far there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Pakistan, however four Pakistani students in China have been confirmed as infected.

Some 28,000 to 30,000 Pakistanis are living in China, while more than 500 Pakistani students are in virus-hit Wuhan, according to officials.

The foreign ministry told reporters on Thursday that there were no immediate plans to evacuate Pakistani citizens from China.

Separately, Zafar Mirza, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on heath, told a press conference: “We don´t want to make any emotional decision which could bring this disease to Pakistan, we will take a rational decision on appropriate time.”

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