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Coronavirus: British Airways halts flights to mainland China as cases exceed SARS

British Airways halts flights to mainland China as cases exceed SARS

British Airways has suspended all flights to mainland China as the number of coronavirus cases in the country surpassed the SARS epidemic.

The airline, which operates daily flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Heathrow, said the cancellations are in effect unti 31 January following advice from the Foreign Office warning against “all but essential travel”.

British Airways’ website showed no bookings for direct flights to mainland China until 1 March.

A BA spokeswoman apologised but said the safety “of our customers and crew is always our priority”, as it directed passengers due to travel to and from China in the coming days to its website, ba.com.

In the last 24 hours, 26 people have died in China, bringing the death toll to 132, and the numbers of confirmed cases has soared to 5,974, an increase of 1,459 from Tuesday.

The latest figures mean the new virus, dubbed Wuhan Virus, has now infected more people than SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) which infected 5,327 people and killed 349 between November 2002 and July 2003.

All but one of the newly recorded deaths were in Hubei province, where the virus originated in its biggest city, Wuhan.