After the UK Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to mainland China because of the coronavirus outbreak, British Airways has suspended all its direct flights to the country. The airline normally operates daily flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Heathrow but has halted services “with immediate effect”. A company statement said: “We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority.” Other carriers, including Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, have already cancelled some of their flights to China. The virus, which can cause pneumonia-like severe acute respiratory infection, and has already killed more than 130 people, is thought to have developed at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which has been in lockdown since January 23.
At least 16 other countries have said that they are dealing with confirmed cases of the virus and several airports have introduced health checks for passengers arriving from China.