China on Thursday said that it has lodged diplomatic protests with countries whose airlines have cancelled flights to Chinese cities and asked them not to overreact alleging that they are spreading panic in the wake of deadly coronavirus. This comes as the deadly novel coronavirus has killed nearly 563 people and infected over 28,000 in China.
Many international airlines including the AirIndia and IndiGo have cancelled flights amid the dread of coronavirus. According to reports, Beijing has described the move as against WHO guidelines. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told international media on Thursday that they hope all countries can assess the epidemic situation and China's efforts in a calm, objective and rational manner before stating that they should ‘not overreact.’
Chunying also said that the Chinese government is acting with openness, transparency and high sense of responsibility in sharing information and enhancing international cooperation in addition to dealing with the virus. The announcement comes as many counties have issued travel bans and advisories on citizens travelling to China. She said that the WHO has often opposed the travel restrictions imposed by other countries. She added that ICAO has issued bulletins and encouraged other nations to follow WHO recommendations.
Speaking further Chunying said that the actions of other countries have sowed panic amongst the public and accused other nations of gravely disrupted normal personnel exchanges, international cooperation and order of the international market of air transportation.
Speaking about Chinese airlines, Chunying revealed that China’s civil flights won’t be suspended and added that the Civil Aviation Administration of China has taken effective measures to minimise the possibility of the virus spreading in aircraft and to ensure travellers' safety and health on international flights.
The move comes as the Chinese government confirmed Thursday that the death toll from the outbreak of the new coronavirus rose to 593. Speaking to international media in Beijing, Song Shuli, from China's National Health Commission said there were 28,018 cases of the virus. The Ministry of Transport said that although peak travel in big cities would not be as high as in previous years, there was still a risk of people contracting the virus as they travel.