China to suspend direct flights to and from Britain over new coronavirus strain fears

China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom.
China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom, Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday (Dec 24), citing the emergence of a new coronavirus strain.

"After much consideration, China has decided to take reference from others countries and suspend flights to and from UK," Mr Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.

"China will closely monitor relevant developments and dynamically adjust control measures depending on the situation," Mr Wang said.

There are currently eight weekly flights between mainland China and the United Kingdom, according to aviation data provider Variflight, including one each by Air China, China Eastern Airlines and 
China Southern Airlines.  

British Airways operates two flights a week from London to Shanghai.

Countries across the globe are shutting their borders to Britain after the emergence of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain.  

Hong Kong banned all flights arriving from Britain from Tuesday, becoming the first city in Asia to announce such a halt.

Japan said on Wednesday that it would ban the entry of non-Japanese people from Britain following the emergence of the new virus strain.

Singapore has also joined over 40 other countries in tightening restrictions on travellers arriving from Britain.

As at late Wednesday, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history to Britain within the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.

This ban will also apply to all those who had obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore. Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents will have to be tested on arrival, and again towards the end of their 14-day stay-home notice period.