British Airways on Wednesday suspended all flights to mainland China with immediate effect amid the escalating coronavirus crisis. The deadly virus has reportedly killed 132 people and infected over 6,000 people.
A statement from British Airways' official website read,
"Following Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel to mainland China we have temporarily suspended our flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai with immediate effect, until Friday 31 January, while we assess the situation. Flights to and from Hong Kong remain unaffected. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority."
Currently, the airline has halted all bookings on its website for direct flights between London to Beijing and Shanghai until March. This comes after the British Foreign Office on Tuesday urged all its citizens to refrain from travelling to and from China until it is essential.
Thousands of Britons are expected to fly back home on Thursday in a landmark evacuation mission organised by the British government which has already been criticised for the delay in its efforts to help its citizens. According to media reports, anybody who wanted to return to the UK would have to contact the nearest embassy.
A statement on the official website said,
If you’re in China and you need urgent help (for example, you’ve been attacked, arrested or someone has died), call +86 (0) 10 8529 6600. If you’re in the UK and worried about a British national in China, call 020 7008 1500.
Meanwhile, people who have returned to the UK from the Chinese city of Wuhan, considered as the epicentre of the pandemic, have been asked by the authorities to 'self-isolate' themselves. This move means that nearly 1,460 people who have returned from Wuhan since January 10 should isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving the country for Britain.