Air Canada just canceled all flights to China including Beijing and Shanghai
After reducing the frequency of its flights to China due to shrinking customer demand in the face of the new novel coronavirus scare, Air Canada has now taken the step of completely suspending all flights to a number of major Chinese cities.
As of earlier today, the carrier was offering full refunds and flight changes free-of-charge to passengers interested in cancelling their scheduled travel to Wuhan, Beijing or Pudong, China.
Now, the airline has decided to cancel all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai for an entire month, from January 30 until February 29. It currently operates more than 30 flights per week to these destinations from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The move is in response to the Government of Canada's update to its travel advisory for China, which as of today recommends that residents avoid non-essential travel to the country due to safety and security concerns over the virus.
"Several airlines have suspended or reduced flights to and from the country. Chinese authorities have imposed travel restrictions in parts of the country," the travel advisory reads. "Further restrictions may be imposed on short notice. It may be increasingly difficult to travel within the country or in and out of it."
The federal government is also encouraging Canadians to avoid all travel to the Hubei Province — ground zero for 2019-nCoV — in particular.
Yesterday, British Airways cancelled all flights to mainland China, while American Airlines did the same for its flights from L.A. to Shanghai and Beijing.
Finnair, Lion Air, Air India, Air Seoul, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Eva Air, and Jetstar Asia are also among the international airlines that have altered flight schedules to and from China in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Air Canada has apologized for any disruption the news may cause, and is offering customers a full refund or the option to travel with other carriers.
There are now more than 6,000 cases of the virus confirmed in at least 17 countries globally, and 132 people have died. The World Health Organization has announced that its emergency committee on 2019-nCoV will be meeting tomorrow to reassess whether the growing outbreak is in fact a public health emergency of international concern.
Canada currently only has two confirmed and one presumptive confirmed case of the illness: the former two patients in stable, isolated condition in Toronto and the latter in self-isolation in Vancouver.
Despite what feels like a bit of panic, many health experts say the virus is in many ways of less concern than the common flu, which kills tens of thousands of people nationwide each year and is also often a form of (more familiar) coronavirus.
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