Pakistan, Maldives suspend flight operations to and from China as South Asia remains on high alert

Pakistan and Maldives halted flight operations to and from China after the death toll in the country climbed to more than 200 and the first coronavirus positive case was reported in India

Jan 31, 2020

Pakistan and Maldives halted flight operations to and from China after the death toll in the country climbed to more than 200 and the first coronavirus positive case was reported in India.

South Asian countries remained on high alert to the deadly spread of the epidemic that was declared a "global health emergency" by the WHO. especially since all the South Asian countries either share land borders or have close links with China.   Five South Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan — share a combined 4,000 miles of border territory with China. 

In India, the first positive case of coronavirus was reported from Kerala. A girl student who returned from China's Wuhan was tested positive, she has been shifted to the Thrissur Medical College hospital and her condition is improving.  Authorities are contacting all passengers who travelled on a private airline flight from Kolkata to Cochin on January 23 -- the flight that the girl student was travelling.

Pakistan, despite having fraternal ties with China, halted flights to and from China with immediate effect. Earlier, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced that the government had decided not to repatriate Pakistani citizens stranded in China in accordance with the recommendations of the WHO, Dawn reported.

In Sri Lanka, a Chinese woman was tested coronavirus positive at the Bandaranaike International Airport when she was about to leave the country. The group with which she was travelling went back to China while she was admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Angoda. Health Ministry officials and provincial health officials have visited the hotels she stayed in and advised them on the steps to be taken, Colombo Gazette reported.

In Nepal new 2019nCoV case has surfaced in past one week. However the Nepali government has come under fire for its lackadaisical response to the crisis. The Nepali student who was tested coronavirus positive had earlier this month visited a hospital, but he was discharged even before the virus was confirmed, Kathmandu Post reported.

There are no reports of 2019nCoV from Bangladesh. A special flight of Bangladesh Biman is going to China on Friday afternoon to bring back 361 Bangladeshis trapped in Wuhan, The Independent reported. The returnees from Wuhan will be kept at the quarantine unit at Ashkona Haj camp for 14 days. 15 Bangladesh citizens have opted to stay back in China for better health facilities in China and avoid the risk of transmitting the coronavirus in Bangladesh.

Bhutan’s Health Minister Dechen Wangmo assured the public that in case of an outbreak, there is a good system in place and the ministry is fully equipped to deal with it. The health ministry has also issued cautionary notification and travel advisory to the public and health centres, Kuensel reported.

A day after Maldives suspended direct flights to and from China and issued a travel advisory to locals against traveling to China, the Chinese Ambassador to the Maldives, Zhang Lizhong announced on that charter flights from China will arrive in the Maldives today to take back the thousands of Chinese tourists currently stranded in the country, Sun reported.

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